Distance Learning Reflection
In the next ten years, distance learning will have found its rightful place in all learning situations, from K-12 learning to higher education to corporate training. According to the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, new ideas (distance learning in this case) will need to be promoted until they become so important and widely accepted that they reach critical mass. They will no longer need to be promoted at this point, merely incorporated into our day-to-day. Dr. Simonson uses the use of personal computers to describe this theory (Laureate Education, n.d.). He also suggests that distance learning has reached its critical mass point and will continue to grow significantly in an evolutionary way, but not revolutionary (Laureate Education, n.d.). Meaning it will not replace traditional learning institutions but find its place alongside or intertwined with traditional education.
There are many factors that have contributed to the growing acceptance of distance education such as increased use of online communication, practical experience with new technology, and the ability to communicate with diverse and global groups (Laureate Education, n.d.). The increased use of online communication such as email, blogging, social media, and video conferencing has made our society more comfortable with these means of communication and their use in distance learning make it more acceptable. As people become more comfortable with various technology applications in their day-to-day lives, they are becoming more accepting of the use of these same technologies in the use of distance education. There is also the added benefit of saving time and money for both the learner and the institution that is adding to the acceptance of distance learning.
Empirical data from my course studies show that there are some negative perception of distance education, most around the quality and rigor of education provided through distance learning. As an instructional designer, we must ensure we are designing effective distance learning experiences that prove to be just as effective, if not more effective, than traditional learning solutions. We need to remember the equivalency theory as traditional courses are redesigned for distance learning (Simonson, Smaldino, Zvacek, 2015). It is important that the instructional design does not put the technology before the student and the content. And that the course material is restructured to be effective for distance learning.
In my current role as a high school teacher, I feel it is important that I expose my students to an integrated use of technology in the classroom. As my students move on to higher education, it is more likely now that they will be exposed to online course work. I want to help them develop the skills they will need to be successful in their future coursework. One of the things I have done is to design a web-facilitated course so that my students are familiar with receiving content and feedback online. Next school year I would like to incorporate discussion boards as this is a large component of most online learning environments.
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Distance education: The next generation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.