Defining Distance Learning
Over the past 15 years distance learning has become more and more prevalent in modern society. Because of technology and technological know how distance learning has become an alternative to education as we know it. Distance learning is evolving because we are evolving as a society. We are currently living in the Information Age, which means that our economy is based on acquiring and passing information. If you take a broad look over all industries information has consumed the way we conduct business. Having the access to information at your fingertips is now a necessity opposed to a luxury. If you don’t believe this to be true, relinquish your smart phones, computers or tablets for a month and then you will realize how much we are dependent on information.
Naturally distance learning is taking its cues from society. I see distance learning as an alternative to education not a replacement. Distance learning has a market share and therefore creates a demand. Distance learning offers convenience to the working professional or adults that need continuing education but don’t have the time to sit in a traditional classroom. Asynchronous learning affords the working adult the opportunity to continue their education by accommodating their lifestyles.
The benefits of distance learning are many. The question that comes to mind is what distance learning is and what will it become? Throughout my readings the one question that comes to mind is will distance learning replace education, as we know it? Although the demand for distance learning is great, distance learning is an alternative not a replacement.
When I was an undergrad in college, the on campus college experience shaped who I am today. Forming friendships, joining organizations (fraternities, student unions, etc.) playing sports, and meeting new people from around the country and world filled that need for socialization. All of which are important for networking and adapting to the world, as we know it. All of these things are important and are irreplaceable. Distance learning cannot offer these experiences and therefore will not in my opinion replace traditional education. Compare distance learning to online shopping; sure we love to shop online for convenience but nothing replaces tangible feeling that you experience when you are in a physical store.
Sure the demands for distance learning are great, however distance learning serves a purpose and fills a void for the working professional or working adult. Distance learning by my definition is a valuable tool used to acquire knowledge and gain skills while expanding the boundaries of traditional education. The value of distance learning is priceless. With any industry that is in great demand there are going to be potential growing pains. To meet the demands of quality education learning institutions must invest in qualified instructors and instructional designers to maintain the quality and credibility of the learning institution. This also holds true for private industries that are using distance learning as a training tool. Forshay, Huett, Moller, & Wellesley contends that distance learning is rapidly becoming a popular choice for continuing professional education, mid-career degree programs, and lifelong learning of all kinds.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek., S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, Ma: Pearson
Moller, L., Foshay, W., Huett, J., (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implication for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). Tech Trends, 52, 66-75. Retrieved January 6, 2014
Moller, L., Foshay, W., Huett, J., (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implication for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K 12). Tech Trends, 52, 63-67. Retrieved January 6, 2014