Distance education has become a preferred way for many people to further their education while balancing careers and families. The fact remains, however, that there is still much controversy over whether or not distance education can match up to a traditional education in a classroom setting. “In spite of the phenomenal growth of distance education, two conflicting pressures confront distance educators” (Simonson et al, 2014). Students prefer to learn in a face-to-face learning environment with interaction but also want to have the flexibility to learn where and when they choose (Simonson et al, 2012).
I feel the perception of distance education can be extremely different depending on who you ask. A novice distance learner might have concerns as to whether or not the education received will be as reputable as the education received from a traditional learning environment. Another perception might be that distance learning environment is less rigorous than that of a traditional classroom because some may see the increase in flexibility in distance learning as one that results in less accountability since you do not actually have to sit in a traditional classroom. These perceptions, from personal experience, are farthest from the truth but without any background knowledge to base these perceptions on, it would be hard for one without any distance education experience to know. As technology continues to grow and distance education awareness increases, I feel this will change as more people will be presented with opportunities to learn online. “In addition, high-speed delivery technologies will facilitate the distribution of distance education courses, and evolution of tools for learning will continue to enhance the learning experience.
The role of an instructional designer in promoting positive awareness of distance education is extremely important. The job of the ID is to ensure that any courses or online projects that he or she designs should reflect professionalism and knowledge of the expectations needed to ensure a quality program. “Instructional design should consider all aspects of the instructional design environment, following a well-organized procedure that provides guidance for to even the novice distance instructor. The instructional environment should be viewed as a system, a relationship among all of the components of that system-the instructor, the learners, the material and the technology” (Simonson et al, 2012).
In order for me, as an Instructional Designer, to make a positive impact in the future of distance education, I must commit to staying current on best practices involving designing and developing courses for potential clients while presenting a professional work ethic. “One key to effective distance education is correct instructional design, a systematic process that applies research-based principles to educational practice. If the design is effective, instruction will also be effective” (Simonson et al, 2012).
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The Future of Distance Education [Video filed]. Retrieved from https://class.walden.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.