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……..