Reflecting on Distance Education

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week marks the end of the distance-learning course.  In this last distance learning blog it is important to reflect upon the knowledge gained throughout the course, and the knowledge that needs to be continued.  This course started with the simple definition of distance education, “as institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 7 & 32).  Throughout the course this definition was broke down and defined in greater detail.  From the foundations and theories of distance education, to the designing and facilitating of distance education.  The following questions will be answered in this reflection.  What is the future of distance education?  How can I as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning?  How will I be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education?

The Future of Distance Education

            According to Siemens (2010), the biggest challenge for the future of distance education is to make the learners more comfortable.  As distance education continues to evolve and the instructional designers become more comfortable with distance education, then the learners will continue to become more comfortable.  In five to ten years distance education will be even more accepted than it is today.  There will be more research on the success of distance education, and learners will be increasingly interested in an education that is conveniently located online, and available from your own home.  In the last five years, we started to see online communication technologies that have the capability to bring people together in live video formats from all over the world.  Siemens (2010) believes that new communication tools will impact the future of distance education. Tools that will bring people together in even better ways than today.  To close the comfort gap instructional designers will have to continue to use multimedia and games to increase student motivation and engagement.

Improving Societal Perceptions of Distance Education

            To improve societal perceptions it is important to make the people aware of the challenges and how they are being fixed.  If we can overcome the challenges, then society can become more comfortable (Siemens, 2010).  Schmidt & Gallegos (2001), identify the biggest concern people have with distance education is the interaction between the instructor and the students.  Schmidt & Gallegos’s (2001) survey that was given to college students highlighted this as one of the main concerns.  Respondents suggested the interaction could be increased through chat rooms, phone calls, and once a week meetings (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001).  I personally believe that meeting once a week would be the best solution, but I would have the meeting online in a synchronous one-on-one video.  Traditional courses require a lot of time, and learners with full-time jobs and family responsibilities may not have the option of driving to a university and spending time in a classroom.  Society needs to understand that distance education caters to the needs of the full-time workers and full-time family members.  They “no longer need to revolve their life around school hours” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p.5).  It gives them the opportunity to advance their knowledge, while still fulfilling their other obligations.

Positive Force for Continuous Improvement in Distance Education

            In my current position as a sixth grade math teacher in a traditional classroom, I need to provide the students with technology experiences.  The students I teach need to have technology experiences because their future in education will most likely involve technology.  As distance education becomes more accepted, I believe it will start to become more popular in the k-12 classrooms.  The benefits to distance education will continue to grow, and to help students feel more comfortable I must give them experiences with technology tools.  It is my responsibility as an instructional designer to stay updated and comfortable with new technology tools.  Communication is the another area of concern in distance education, so it is important for me to communicate with my students in multiple ways (email, podcasts, online discussions).  If the opportunity comes available I would enjoy teaching at a distance, and I will need to remember what makes students successful and comfortable in an online setting.

The future of distance education is unknown.  We can only assume distance education will evolve and become more accepted.  The technology tools we see today are amazing when you look back at what we had five or ten years ago.  I would expect the same thing in the next five to ten years.  It is hard to imagine what education will look like in ten years, but I would assume distance education would be in it.  There will always be the process of learning new technology tools, and people will need to accept the new tools as they have accepted the tools in the past.  I am seeing a shift with students from a traditional lecture/ drill and practice setting, to a more interactive/independent setting.  The acceptance of distance education will continue to improve.

References

Schmidt, D., & Gallegos, A. (2001).  Distance learning: Issues and concerns of distance learners. Journal of Industrial Technology, 17(3). Retrieved from: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html

Siemens, G. (2010). The future of distance education (Video Program). Laureate Education Inc.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

 

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Laurae Schriner says:

    Hi Jordan,

    I look forward to our learning experience in EDUC 6145.

    Cheers,
    Laurae

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s