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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Reflection on the Future of Distance Learning

According to eLearning Industry, elearning is a $56.2 billion business that is likely to double in size before 2015. They also stated that by 2019 half of all college courses will be taught online and that right now more than 4.6 million college students are taking at least one course online (Pappas, 2013). These stats show a bright future for e-learning since it is getting accepted by more people. Two of the biggest factors in my opinion that’s going to contribute to an expansion in distance learning are today’s generation and the expanding Web 2.0 technology. Millennials are thought to be addicted to social networking services, they post to their friends, they tweet to their twibes and they pretend in their profiles (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012). Our current generation is growing up communicating using Facebook, YouTube, Wikis, Blogs, and using smart phones for all kinds of functions. They are using these tools to form social communities to stay in touch with friends and family. These same tools are used in distance learning which means that the current generation will be comfortable taking online courses since they have grown up using the tools required to communicate and form learning communities within distance learning courses. One other factor that will lead to wider expansion of distance learning in the future is the economy. Tough economic times have forced many corporations to find ways of saving money and one way is by using distance learning to train their employees. Distance learning is used by 77% of the corporations in our country and they have saved 50-70% by replacing instructor based training with distance learning (Pappas, 2013).

The way to be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning is by being an advocate and letting people who are interested know on the advantages of distance learning as well as the disadvantages. I would also tell them of the characteristics (self starter, self discipline, motivated) and qualities needed to succeed in an online course. I would demystify the perception that distance learning is easy and let them know that it distance learning packs a lot of things to do usually in a short period and that you must make the time to get it done or it will accumulate and drown you if you fall behind. I would let them know that the quality of training is equivalent to that of classroom training except that instead of an instructor in the front lecturing, you will have different types of technology such as videos providing the lecture. Hopefully by educating people on what distance learning is and what you need to do to succeed, more people will be curious and try a course.

The way I will be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance learning will be to develop and put out the best possible e-learning course that meets the objectives using the proper amount of technology. In order to get support for distance learning we must create courses that will have a positive impact on the learner. The Theory of Reasoned Action model suggests that a learner’s reaction and attitude will influence behavior (Long, Dubois, & Faley, 2006). In other words if learner has a negative learning experience in an e-learning course then likely they will not be satisfied with the training provided by e-learning and will have a negative attitude toward e-learning. Back in the early days of e-learning we were basically producing what seemed to be page turner PowerPoint type of e-learning that bored the learner and gave them a bad feeling of distance learning. We then started adding multimedia and different types of technology to e-learning and made it more engaging and got positive results from the learner changing their attitudes toward e-learning. This is how I will strive to improve the field, by ensuring that learner have a good learning experience by creating quality e-learning courses and going back and revamping older courses based on feedback from formative and summative evaluations.

Reference
Long, L., Dubois, C., & Faley, R. (2006). The Usefulness of Trainee Reactions in Online Training. International Journal of Learning, 13(1), 1-11. Retrieved from Education Research Complete Database

Pappas, C. (2013), Important Statistics about the eLearning Market for 2013 – Infographic. Retrieved from http://elearningindustry.com/important-statistics-about-the-elearning-market-for-2013-infographic#

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

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Posted by on August 24, 2013 in EDUC 6135 Distance Learning

 

Review of Open Source Course

I was tasked to select a course from a free Open Course site and review it. The course review should be based on the instructional design techniques and concepts that were discussed this week in our textbook. The course review should answer the following three questions:
– Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment? How so?
– Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?
– Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?
The open course I selected for review was Electricity and Magnetism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Course site (http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-02-electricity-and-magnetism-spring-2002/index.htm). This is what I found based on the three questions.

Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for distance learning environment? How so?
After reviewing this course what I can conclude is that this in not really a distance learning course at all but more like someone took some of the classroom course material and converted it electronically and saved it to the internet for people to view. The course has 36 lecture videos that are pretty much someone set up a camera in the classroom and recorded the instructor teaching his students. The course assignments and exams with solutions are all posted on a link in the course. Some fundamentals of teaching online that should be considered is avoid dumping face to face course onto the web, integrate the power of the web in the course and apply adult learning principles (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). This course pretty much did the opposite and dumped a whole lot of material from the classroom online, did not use any interactivity or tools the web provides and definitely did not apply any adult learning principles since there is no particular set guidance or structure for the student on how to go through the course. Simonson, et al. 2012, stated that when planning for instruction at a distance that faculty should keep in mind that traditional classroom courses may need to be retooled, revised and interactivity implemented. None of this was planned in this course and the course is just a static bunch of classroom material that has been given some kind of organization on a website.

Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?
The course does not follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in the course textbook. In any instructional setting, students benefit when they have a clear view of such issues as class organization and student responsibilities (Simonson, et al. 2012) This is usually done through a syllabus but this course has a weak syllabus that does not provide the objectives, learning goals or outcomes that are expected from the student. Students need to have a sense of community within their class (Simonson, et al. 2012). There is no communication with other students or an instructor in this class to establish a sense of community. As I stated before there is no type of interactivity within the course other than watching 36 lecture videos. There are also not many activities such as an application to enforce what was learned in the videos other than the 11 assignment items on the link and some can’t be done unless you have the equipment mentioned in the assignment. Pretty much this course does not follow the majority of recommendations and concept for distance learning prescribed in our textbook.

Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?
The course designer did not implement any course activities that maximized active learning. All that was done in this course was the classroom lectures were recorded and placed online with some additional material. The course is very static with no interactivity to engage the student through scenarios or simulations and through dialogue engagement with other students by using a threaded discussion or class blog.
Open source courses is best use to learn additional knowledge on a subject you have some familiarity with but I would not recommend it if you want to learn something new.

MIT Open Courseware (2013), Electricity and Magnetism, retrieved from http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-02-electricity-and-magnetism-spring-2002/index.htm
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance – Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2013 in EDUC 6135 Distance Learning