Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

Technology, in distance learning, is rapidly growing and changing. Technology tools are opening up greater possibilities for teachers to provide real-life opportunities and collaboration for learners without having to leave the learning environment. “Emerging technologies are changing are changing online distance learning because they offer new solutions, add flexibility to integrate student interaction, and evoke real-life collaboration opportunities” (Beldarrian, 2006). The responsibility of the instructional designer is to design and develop a learning environment that meets the needs of both the learner and facilitator. In doing so, choosing the correct type of technology tools has a huge impact on achieving these goals.

The scenario I chose to use for the week three application is: Example 2: Interactive Tours. A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?

In order for the students see the art work on display the instructional designer should include a podcast in the learning environment. “Podcasts are a compilation of digital files that can be automatically downloaded from the Web each time updated files in the collection are released. You can create podcasts audio- only, audio with images and video” (Laureate Education, Inc.). The use of a podcast would allow the learners in the high school class to view the artwork at the museum, while also listening to an audio prepared by the curators. A media sharing site would also be a type of technology in which an instructional designer would choose to use in the learning scenario. “Media sharing sites are Web sites that facilitate the sharing of content and artifacts such as text, pictures, videos, presentations and audio files. Students can use these sites to form communities of interest” (Laureate Education, Inc.). This type of technology would be extremely effective for the teacher, students and museum curators. The museum curator has the ability to display the artwork using a chosen media technology in which the students can view and comment. A final piece of useful technology for this scenario would be a wiki. Once the students have completed their virtual tours, they can begin collaboration and discussion of the two pieces of are they have chosen. A wiki would be an extremely useful avenue for them to share their ideas, insights and reflections while also having the ability to comment and collaborate. “Wikis, like blogs, can be instructor-managed or student-managed. Students at Bowdain College (USA) initiated their own collaborative wiki to share their love of romantic literature and poetry. The result was a highly organized wiki structure with an alphabetical listing of entries to help participants find their topics of interest” (Beldarrain, 2006).

In order to provide an effective and memorable learning experience for the students, the teacher must spend a lot of time planning with the instructional designer and museum curator to ensure the technology pieces are adding value to the learning environment opposed to causing difficulties and wasting time. The three hour time distance must also be taken into account during the design and development in order to ensure learning is valuable to everyone involved. “Most often, teachers use classrooms that have been designed and installed by others. However, the effective utilization of distance education classrooms requires a new set of skills for most educators and learners. Teaching with technology to learners who are not physically located in the same site where instruction is taking place requires a different set of skills and competencies than traditional education. Technologies are tools that must be mastered to be effective” (Simonson, 2012).







Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2),139–153.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The Technology of Distance Education (Video File). Retrieved from

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

Distance learning….

My first assignment for this class is to provide a summary of my thoughts and definition of distance learning prior to completing the assigned reading for the class. Distance learning is an opportunity for so many eager learners to obtain endorsements, degrees and certifications on their own time. The freedom to learn without having to worry about when and how to get to a class while balancing family and career is why distance learning appealed to me. I had the desire to learn and get a masters degree but it was no feasible while working full time and taking care of a child. Distance learning was the key to my educational future.

According to Simpson, Smaldino, Albright and Zvacek, authors of Teaching and Learning at a Distance, Foundations of Distance Education, distance education can be classified in different ways. “The Sloan Consortium reports also provide excellent criteria for distinguishing among online courses, blended/hybrid courses and Web-facilitated courses. An online course is one where most of the content is delivered online, which means 80& of the course content. A blended or hybrid course combines online and face to face delivery; thus 30% to 79% of the course’s content is delivered online. A Web-facilitated course uses Web-based technology, but less than 29% of the content is delivered online” (Simpson et al, 2012).

Upon completing the reading assignment my definition of distance learning is very narrow in comparison to its capabilities. I teach third grade and use technology to facilitate my students’ learning. We use smartboard, iPads, e-readers and laptops and I would have never categorized this type of learning as distance learning. My students are, however, embarking on Web-based technology which is a classification of distance learning.

Distance learning, in my opinion, will continue to grow as technology continues to become better and more powerful. The internet has maximized the way in which we learn, conduct research and connect with others. As technology continues to grow, doors will open for a greater way to deliver, teach and facilitate through distance learning. This, however, does come with changing the way in which the learners are taught. “Distance learning is a dramatic idea. It may change, even restructure, education, but only if it is possible to make the experience of the distant learner as complete, satisfying and acceptable as ther experience of the local learner. If distance education is to be a successful and mainstream aproach, then it is imperative that distant education systems be designed to permit equivalent learning experiences for distant and local students” (Simpson et al, 2012).

In closing I would like to add that after pondering the readings for this week, I feel it is extremely difficult to provide an accurate definition for distance learning. Researchers and theorists have different ideas and perceptions of what distance learning is and how or what makes it effective. “Numerous definitions of distance education have been proposed. Most include the separation of teacher and learner, the opportunity for two-way communication, and the practice of individualized instruction” (Simpson et al, 2012). I look forward to learning and gaining a better understanding of distance education and how it has a positive impact on the way in which we learn.

More to come……..