Distance Learning Reflection

Posted: March 2, 2015 in Instructional Design

This week, I will reflect on the current and future perceptions of distance learning in our society.  In this course, I have learned that distance learning has evolved and will continue to evolve over the years.  The definition of distance education has changed over the years as well.  A current definition of distance education is that it is “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. 32).   In the past, correspondence study, which is over a 100 years old, was a distance education option carried out through the postal service (Simonson et al., 2012, p. 37).

With the rapid advances in technology, the demand for distance learning is increasing in the education setting.  In the education setting, distance learning is a viable option for students who would like to continue their education but have to juggle work, family, and personal responsibilities.   This may attract adult working professionals who have to juggle these responsibilities.  However in the next 5-10 years, I believe that an increasing number of younger students will be attracted to distance learning.  Many younger students have to work odd hours and participate in athletic sports need flexibility.  This is offered in offered in distance learning.  In addition, the younger population tends to keep up with the latest trends in technology.  To be a successful distance learner, students need to be tech savvy. George Siemen’s points out in the video, The future of distance education, that there is a “growing acceptance of distance education” (Laureate, n.d.).  This is due to the in the increase in online communication, a growing comfort with online distance courses, and the ability to communicate with diverse groups around the world (Laureate, n.d.). The changes in the perception of distance education will continue to be factors in the next 10-20 years.  In addition, new technologies and increased multimedia options will continue to be factors in distance education in the next 10-20 years.

There is a growing demand for distance learning training in the business environment.  Distance learning is becoming more popular due to the availability of technology and collaborative tools used within companies including web conferencing, wiki’s, webinars, blogs, email, CHAT/IM, videos, etc.  These technologies allow companies to communicate and interact with offices around the world (Laureate, n.d.).  In the next 5-10 years, distance learning training will be a viable option for companies that want to save significantly on travel expenses, and provide flexible training options for employees with busy schedules.    In the next 10-20 years, I believe that collaborating with employees globally will continue to grow as more people become comfortable with these technologies.  Collaboration in the workplace is important.  According to Wiesen (2015), “collaborative training is a form of training in which a number of people learn together as a group, usually through a system such as computers connected through an Internet connection.”

Although there has been continued growth and change is distance learning, there is still room for improvement is societal perceptions of distance learning.  There is still room for improvement in the way some value distance learning degree programs and quality of instruction.  As an instructional designer (ID), my goal is to create quality learning experiences.  IDs must take the needs of distant learners into consideration and keep them engaged.  When planning for instruction, understanding the characteristics of distant learners and the factors that influence their success is necessary to create positive learning experiences.  According to Dede (2005), “rapid advances in information technology are reshaping the learning styles of many students in higher education”.  Today, young and adult students are involved in distance education.  IDs have to keep both adult and young learners, those in the millennial generation born between the years of 1982 and 2005, interested in the course.  Courses should be interactive and dynamic to help learners retain information.  In the business environment, IDs have to consider the rapidly changing business environments.  Since clients in corporate environments are so diverse, it is important to get an understanding of their different learning styles and needs.

It is important that IDs properly plan a distance education course.  I know that it is important to “plan and organize a distance education course well ahead of the scheduled instruction” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p.153).  This will avoid pitfalls and problems in the course and enable learners to have positive learning experiences.  When planning for instruction, IDs should utilize instructional design models, such as ADDIE, to create effective learning instructional modules.

There is a need for more widely used evaluations tools for online courses.  There is still a need for new methodologies in the ID field that will integrate electronic performance support systems (EPSS), knowledge management (KM), and training components, which will take the new approach to needs assessment and ROI evaluation (Moller, Foshay, & Huett , 2008).
References

Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 28(1), 7–12.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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

Wiesen, G. (2015, January 1). What Is Collaborative Training? Retrieved January 26, 2015, from http://www.wisegeek.net/what-is-collaborative-training.htm

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Comments
  1. jennbID says:

    Farida – I am now following your blog!

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