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RUNNING HEAD: Foundations of Distance Education Midterm

Monica Jackson Foundations of Distance Education Midterm Dr. Steven Crooks EDIT5370 October 15, 2013

Foundations of Distance Foundations of Distance Education Midterm Over the past few years, distance education has become a topic of discussion for many educators and has grown a huge increase at professional conferences, top universities and

integrated into K-12 schools as well. Distance education has been examined thoroughly over the years on its definition, contribution to the field of education and learning along with the numerous forms of research that has taken place. The growth of distance education will continue to evolve as we study and practice this type of learning. Online courses have become a regular activity at most institutions who offer online courses or blended courses to students at various locations across the nation and globe. Through the course of study we have examined and learned numerous aspects of the foundations that surround distance education. Those areas which will be covered are the history and definitions of distance education, research within the field of distance education and the use of various communication tools that support the learning instruction of distance education. Traditional education takes place at the same time in the same place while we know that distance education follows a less structured approach offering education at different times and at different places. Learners choose what materials they will use to access the learning, when they want to learn it and where to learn the material based off the course rubric. My own definition I used for module two was distance education is referred to as the learning and teaching process between a learner and a teacher who do not facilitate and manage this learning cycle through a traditional learning environment but rather online or remotely. The methods involved include learning that is conducted through various platforms that are centered on the student but facilitated by the teacher.

Foundations of Distance The U. S. Department of Educational Research and Improvement defines distance education as the application of telecommunications and electronic devices which enable students and learners to receive instruction from some distant location (Bruder, 1989, p. 30). Distance education as we know it involves a two-way communication between the teacher and learner using some sort of online learning platform as its technology in order to facilitate this two-way communication. Because this demand has risen and more learners are opting to use this type of learning style, distance education in the United States has flourished as more faculty move to

online teaching. Universities see this method as a long-term strategy to their enrollment numbers and retention rate as they move forward with incorporating more online courses at every level. In 2008, enrollment in online courses increased to about 4.6 million from 2 million in 2003 (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, p. 4). At this rate, the demand for both traditional courses versus distance education courses will eventually be at the same level of enrollment. Those opposed to distance education raise concerns on its true effectiveness and the quality of the relationship between the teacher and learner. With the capability to earn a doctorates degree through distance education, those opposed argue that students will continue to demand the traditional platforms over distance education with there being a significant difference between the two. The history of distance education varies amongst many countries versus the United States. European countries are more open and accepting to online learning and making it available. In the United States, distance education exists and is on the rise especially with the emergence of Massive Open Online Courses. Other countries such as Great Britain and Australia also began developing online instructional methods when distance learning began to appear in schools and colleges. In 1964, the University of Wisconsin, funded by the Carnegie Corporation

Foundations of Distance to study the best use of technology, created the Articulated Instructional Media (AIM) Project. This project was the first attempt to identify, categorize, and systemize distance learning practices and offered direction on how to create and incorporate multimedia instructional packages for the benefit of the independent learner (Gooch, 1998). The drive behind the

expansion of distance education in this country is the role the government has with its support to provide online training opportunities that may not necessarily lead to a university degree but some form of technical training or certifications. The U.S. is headed in the right direction with distance education as it continues to improve its processes and keep up with the demands of learning through technological trends. Distance learning methods are now being employed by some of the best universities the world has to offer (Casey, 2008). This idea will continue to evolve from the historical developments that have occurred over distance education to the new technological advances that are to come not only in the United States but worldwide. A strong demand exists and will continue to do so as Desmond Keegan 1996 theory of distance education serves as a more generally accepted definition for educators and those in the field of distance education continue to work towards the common goal making distance education possible by promoting the teacher to learner relationship through the use of various communication tools. With distance education being a growing phenomenon today than it was years ago, the practice still have many unanswered questions that continue to be asked on the quality of distance education. Professionals in the field still seek guidance of research resources in order to facilitate learning and fully examine learner attributes. Researchers have been studying and reviewing literature related to the field in order to answer some of the questions that have been posed on the effectiveness and quality of instruction with distance education. (Hannum, 2009) states in his journal, progress in distance education as a field depends on high quality research

Foundations of Distance being conducted and disseminated and then put into action to influence policy and practical development. Encouraging research and submission papers, reviewing manuscripts to ensure sound quality, and disseminating the best research in the field have been important roles played by the journal Distance Education. As a result of this statement, it is important for the types of research that are being conducted are structured in a way that will continue to enhance and support the theories of distance education. Current trends in research education as we have learned in this module are those of Brje Holmber, who is a leading distance education theorist. He suggests that the true structure of research should include communication and interaction between students and their supporting organizations, economics, distance students study motivations and other areas that support various aspects of distance education. These principles have set the guidelines as research is conducted and what areas of concentration are needed. Trends in distance education research cover most of these areas identified by Holmber

and all have just the same importance in our field, however, there are some areas that really play a vital role with responding with data, facts and true research to those skeptical to the field of distance education. Research in learning outcomes is a vital research area as we continue to compare the types of media being used in distance education and its effectiveness towards learning. Both learners and teachers involved with distance education continue to compare and question what media tools are best used within the online classroom. Considering the two-way communication and systems that take place, this type of research is an important trend within the practice. Another area of research that weighs heavily in the field of distance education is learner perceptions. This area of research is necessary for online instructors to fully understand how a learners expectations, their attitudes and perceived learning may line in order for the instructor to

Foundations of Distance

adequately tailor their online instruction to meet the needs of their learners. This will also answer to those skeptical of this field there are identifiable factors that have been studied and verified regarding the effectiveness of their experiences and the teacher to learner relationship has been identified as well. The last area of research I feel is one of the most important trends currently being conducted in the field of research for distance education is the interaction in online learning. Research regarding interaction and distance education technologies indicates that different technologies allow differing degrees of interaction (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, p. 79). The interaction learners have with their online studies is a crucial component in this lifecycle of distance education as it contributes to their overall experience and learning. The types of media, materials and delivery used within the online experience contribute to a learners success of not only learning the material but applying it as well. The research which has been conducted continues to show that distance education is an effective method of learning and can be used as an alternative to the traditional method should a student choose to learn with this method. Moving forward, research will continue to set the path for best practices that could be used in this field for online instructors as more researchers continue to focus their efforts on other areas such as K-12 or particular learning groups such as minorities or military learners. It is an exciting time in the field of distance education and there is heavy research to support the practices, objectives and goals of distance education and its importance to our society. Distance learning uses many different forms of technology to promote interaction and instruction. In order to facilitate online learning between teacher and learner or between learner and learner is through the use of communication tools such as discussion boards, instant messaging, and audio/video conferencing just to name a few tools. The key to a successful

Foundations of Distance learning environment in an online setting is not only what tools are used but how these tools are used between all parties involved. Online instructors must first evaluate different types of learning technologies that are available for use in different learning situations. They do this by selecting appropriate technologies for online instruction. We learned in module four and five

there are four steps involved with selecting the appropriate technologies. With the availability of many communication tools to choose from for instruction, it is important for online instructors to choose a broad variety of tools to be used catering to all types of learners. Since online environments should be media rich and strive for authenticity, it is critical that many technologies be used. It is also important that students demonstrate learning outcomes by using a variety of technology-based activities (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012, p. 116). Distance educators may choose between synchronous or asynchronous communication tools to use from. Educators may choose from the two different types of tools for different purposes. Both types of tools have their advantages and disadvantages and how each tool is used has different types of recommendations based on what the learning activity may be or how many learners you may have in the course. An online survey conducted that was presented at the AECT 2000 International Conference in Denver indicated indicated over 35% of distance educators have plans to increase their use of synchronous tools, while 65% plan to increase the use of asynchronous tools. Very few (5%) planned to decrease the use of synchronous tools, and only 3% plan to decrease the use of asynchronous tools (Branon, R. F., & Essex, C., 2001). Based on this research we can assume that distance educators are ensuring they are carefully selecting the type of communication tools they are using within their online classrooms. Teaching with these types of communication tools requires skill and knowledge in order to successfully use these with learners in another site and not in a traditional setting. Some of the

Foundations of Distance differences between asynchronous and synchronous communication tools would be their recommendations for use. With synchronous tools you can meet with smaller groups and facilitate multiple chat times while facilitating and providing specific protocols for these chats. With asynchronous tools, students can work in teams providing feedback in a summary form to include peer feedback while providing clear instructions for posting and reading discussion entries. Online teaching will require the use of various technologies in order to promote instruction and interaction. In any given timeframe, you might put together an assignment in a discussion board, email students to let them know the assignment has been posted, possibly attach a Word document of the lesson plan to the email while conducting a chat session with a student who has questions over the assignment. With where technology is headed and growing

with the trends of communication tools becoming available, online instructors will constantly be trying different types of communication tools that best suit their instruction and learners. There wont be any way to plan what new Web 2.0 tool or blog will be available next year or changes learning management systems will update with their programs in order for distance educators to integrate the right technology to meet all of your leaners needs. These decisions are dependent on the technologies available to you and your students, special needs that might need addressing, objectives of the course, availability of broadband, what is allowed in Acceptable Use Policies, as well as your own comfort level in using the technology itself, and planning to integrate the technology for learning (Dawley, 2007, p.228). Distance education is an exciting field in the field of education. It is growing and more students are finding it a convenient way to learn and access a quality education. Corporate businesses, K-12 schools, military branches and higher education institutions are attracted to this

Foundations of Distance type of learning due to its ability to facilitate learning and training to multiple users across the globe. It is affordable and with the growing trend of technological communications it is easy to facilitate, manage and gain acceptance. Online courses have become a regular activity at most institutions who offer online courses or blended courses to students at various locations across the nation and globe. Through the course of study we have examined and learned numerous aspects of the foundations that surround distance education. We have learned that history not only has set the foundation of distance education but has allowed this trend to continue growing at a fast pace while continuing to educate those not practicing in the field or who may be skeptical to this field of distance education. Through research we have learned the types of research that are being conducted are structured in a way that will continue to enhance and

support the theories of distance education along with the current trends continuing to validate the quality and effectiveness of distance education. Finally, we have learned the different communication tools that exist in order to facilitate distance education along with their best practices, advantages and disadvantages for use as resources to embed in our lesson plans. Online teaching has many rewards and being a part of the field of online instructors who contribute to these endless opportunities is a goal those studying these field should strive to achieve.

Foundations of Distance


References Albright, M., Simonson, M., Smaldino, & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and Learning At a Distance. Foundations of Distance Education, 5th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Branon, R. F., & Essex, C. (2001). Synchronous and asynchronous communication tools in distance education. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 45(1), 36-42. Bruder, I. (1989). Distance learning: Whats holding back this boundless delivery system? Electronic Learning, 8(6), 30-35. Casey, D. M. (2008). A Journey to Legitimacy: The Historical Development of Distance Education through Technology. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 52(2), 45-51. doi:10.1007/s11528-008-0135-z Dawley, L. (2007). The Tools for Successful Online Teaching. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Dempsey, J. & Reiser, R. (2012). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Gooch, J. (1998). They blazed a trail for distance education. Retrieved January 3, 2007, from Hannum, W. (2009). Moving distance education research forward. Distance Education, 30(1), 171-173. doi:10.1080/01587910902846020