Reflection of Distance Learning
Education has dramatically changed over the years, especially the last few years. But, change is seldom easy, especially in changing to something unknown. Distance education intimidates some people because they do not understand it or the technology that goes with it. Distance education is not only online, but can be blended with face-to-face (F2F) education as well. This can help some transition to distance learning. But, change is coming and distance education is gaining in popularity. With all of the advances in technology and telecommunications, distance education is becoming “more available, easier to use, and less costly” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 4). In this blog, I will be discussing my perceptions of distance learning for the future (in 5-10 years; 10-20 years); how I can as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning; and how I can be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education.
In the near future of 5-10 years, my perception is that distance learning will become more accepted, but even further into the future, it will become more commonplace than traditional education. I believe a part of that is the younger generations are much more comfortable with technology. George Siemens explained that there is growing acceptance of distance education which is fueled by an increase in online communication, practical experience with new tools, growing sense of comfort with online discourse, and the ability to communicate with diverse and global groups (Laureate Education, 2010). Distance education will also be affected by even more advanced communication technologies, contribution by experts from around the globe, and increased use of multimedia, games, and simulations (Laureate Education, 2010). Another growth is with the massive online open courses which offer free courses around the world for free and are taught by experts. I also think acceptance will increase because it does show to have a cost savings. Classroom spaces increase for traditional classes, money saved in travels, travel time saved, and money and time save in productivity in corporations. Also, many institutions promote their online programs with the benefits of convenience and flexibility (Gambescia & Paolucci, 2009). Overall, I believe the perception of distance learning in the future will be favorable.
To be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning, I, as an instructional designer, would need to create high quality distance programs. This can be accomplished in the planning process by assessing the learners, creating essential content that is organized, choosing the correct media and teaching strategies, and selecting the best learning environment (Simonson et al., 2012). And in doing so, I would need to “think outside the box, to collaborate and to advance the common vision” (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008, p.66). Engaging the students is critical in changing perceptions of potential students. If they can see that distance learning is not just listening to recorded lectures and reading assignments, they can get excited about the ways technology is used and therefore increase their learning, and maybe encourage others along the way.
I can be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education by keeping up to date with research in the field. Being aware of new teaching strategies and new technologies will improve my distance learning programs. Working closely with the subject matter experts will keep my programs in line with the educational information. If I am using a course management system, it must be well-organized and user-friendly. I will also continually assess and evaluate programs to continuously improve them.
In conclusion, I believe distance learning will continue to blossom as people continue to find ways to work around their schedules in order to obtain degrees. Whether online, blended, or traditional, learning will continue. Knowledge is power.
Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html
Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). The Future of Distance Education [Video webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_1959715_1%26url%3D
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.