Perceptions of Distance Learning

Distance Learning today is growing in popularity for a variety of reasons. Distance Learning offers learners the ability to pursue degrees; complete required training for work, and continued education credits all around the learners busy lifestyles. The learn anyplace at anytime asynchronous nature of distance learning enable students to learn at times that are convenient for them.

Lets be careful with the future of distance learning replacing traditional education entirely in the future. Although education is trending towards distance learning, I don’t foresee distance learning as a total replacement of traditional education. Distance Learning provides a niche, which captures a market share that traditional face-to-face brick and mortar education cannot reach. As technology improves and the field of Instructional Design propagates, the creditability of distance education will greatly improves.  As society becomes further educated through distance learning environments, and become more and more productive in society, distance education benefits by gains in popularity and credibility.

As an Instructional Designer, we are charged with designing and building courses that are aligned with current societal standards, trends and technologies. To remain creditable, Instructional Designers have to be continually educated and recognize current educational trends, changes in society, and be on the cutting edge of technology. Designing courses, working with industry leaders and subject matter experts, have to be a continuous process to build and maintain quality courses. As a high school technology teacher, it is difficult for the public school systems to keep up with the pace of technology because of cost. Most of the courses that are taught in school today are obsolete or becoming obsolete because the technology is antiquated. Students have technologies at home that are far more advanced than what’s at school. It is difficult to remain creditable if what you are teaching is obsolete. Furthermore, it is important to stay ahead of the current trends in technology to remain respectable. It is the job of the Instructional Designer to design courses, maintain, and update courses frequently to keep pace with external factors in society.

As society is trending toward distance education, the demand for Instructional Designers is rapidly increasing; these are oblivious reasons why I am pursing this field like many others. I will be a positive force in this industry by being a pioneer not simply relying on what’s available but remaining on the cutting edge of technology and paying close attention to external factors such as the economy, occupation, and technology trends. To be effective in the industry forward thinking is a must. We have to go beyond what is current; education is about tomorrow. Over the past six years we have witnessed a shift in education due to the lack luster economy. Americans were losing their jobs at an alarming rate partly due to a shift in industry that we were not prepared for. If you fail to look ahead you are doomed to get caught in traps that you can’t foresee.  There have been paradigm shifts in jobs that many Americans are not qualified for and we failed to recognize these shifts. So today we have many out of work Americans that do not have to skills to keep up with the job demands. For these reasons, my job as an Instructional Designer has to go beyond what is current and explore and become a pioneer to what is in the future. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.–Patrick Hopkins


Schmidt, E., & Gallegos, A. (2001). Distance learning: Issues and concerns of distance learners. Journal of Industrial Technology, 17(3). Retrieved from

Siemens, G., (2010) The Future of Distance Education. Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from: 

The Impact of Open Source

MIT Open Courseware is a well-designed open source website. MIT offers an abundance of open source course that are free. Each course is well designed and follows the same structure. These courses are carefully pre-planned because the layouts are user friendly and the course descriptions, level of course, syllabus, course requirement, technological requirements, and expectations of the courses are all in plain view.  Everything you need from course features, course descriptions and course formats are organized onto one page making navigation simple for the potential learner. These independent study courses provide all the tangibles needed to succeed such as lecture videos containing resources such as handouts, slides and coded files. Although these courses are independent study courses, learners have access to instructors, downloaded course materials, and they are able to join study groups for a rich distance-learning environment.

Classroom technology is a key component to a distance classroom environment. To ensure a meaningful distance learning experience the following steps should be followed for online instruction.

  • Assess Available Instructional Technologies
  • Determine the Learning Outcomes
  • Identify Learning Experiences and Match Each to the Most Appropriate Available Technology
  • Preparing the Learning Experience for Online Delivery (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

With each course that is available through MIT Courseware offers a tab listed on the home page labeled software, which gives the potential student the required technology needed to be successful in the course. “Assessing available technologies often require that the instructor determine the level of lowest common technologies” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, p. 116).

With each course learning outcomes are observable and measurable. There are a number of activities and assessments the learners have to complete to prove that he/she has mastered the material. To help guide the students success syllabi, and rubrics are provided with each activity.

MIT Courseware identifies learning experiences and match each to the most appropriate available technology by offering lecture videos and lecture note that are divided into sessions along with assignments related to each session in PDF format.

MIT Courseware prepares the learning experiences for online delivery by linear-programmed instruction, branched-program instruction, hyper-programed instruction and student-programed instruction. All learning instructions are broken into session giving the student the ability to work at a systematic pace for linear instruction. Students have the ability for branch-programmed instruction to move ahead if they mastered the learning material.  All of the courses provided are independent giving the learner the ability to move ahead, which refers to hyper-programed instruction (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

            Finally MIT Courseware is a well-designed CMS, which is simplistic in its layout giving the user the confidence and the ability navigate throughout the distances learning courses with ease. All activities are well organized and related to each session to maximize learning.


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


Massachusetts Institute of Technology



Patrick Hopkins


 Asynchronous Training

To improve a poor safety record at a biodiesel manufacturing plant, the best technology to deliver asynchronous training would be the use of Podcasts. Podcast can be used in a number of different ways to support distance learning. Podcast can be created as audio-only, which will allow the learner to listen to safety regulations anytime or anywhere. Also audio can be used in conjunction with images, and video for training purposes to significantly improve learning. Podcast can on-demand or in a mobile format, which works well for a biodiesel manufacturing plant with multiple shifts that needs to be trained. Podcasts offers freedom to select what, when and where learning takes place. Podcast can be used in a variety of ways to enhance safety training such as:

The ability to download podcasts at any time, to listen to them as often as they wish and at their own pace, furthermore while doing other tasks, would be highly regarded by most distance learners. Learner choice and flexibility are considered to be key factors when it comes to designing distance education courses (Edirisingha, Rizzi, Nie & Rothwell, 2007).

Podcast provides the ability to replay PowerPoint presentations that contain step-by-step instructions while placing the trainee in charge of their own learning. The benefits of Podcasting are many but to a company that has to provide training to a large number of employees can be costly, podcasting can significantly reduce that cost.


Edirisingha, P., Rizzi, C., Nie, M. & Rothwell, L. (2007). Podcasting to provide teaching and learning support for an undergraduate module on English language and communication. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 8(3), 87-107.

Van Zanten, P., (2008). The value of lecture podcasting for distance and on campus students. School of Agriculture, Food and Wine The University of Adelaide. Retrieved January 23


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. 

Mind Map

Patrick Hopkins


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 




Learning Theories Reflection

Learning Theories


When this course first began eight weeks ago I anticipated that there would be magic learning theories that could be acclimated to all learners. Just like a plug and chug statistical math formula, I expected that learning theories would offer me as a future Instructional Designer obvious learning theories or strategies that would be simple to implement to learners with different learning styles. As the weeks went on, exposure to learning theories and rationales behind them, I found it surprising that learning styles are a derivative of other factors related to the brain resulting in how people learn.

This course intensified my personal learning process in a number of ways. I think it is important to fully understand how and why people learn the way that they do. I can empathize with any learner that is misunderstood or considered to be student not capable of learning. Looking back over my academic career teachers, instructors, including professors only used 1 learning theory to teach, which is the Behaviorist Theory. “The behaviorist learning theories emphasize changes in behavior that result from stimulus-response associations made by the learner. Behavior is directed by stimuli. An individual selects one response instead of another because of prior conditioning and psychological drives existing at the moment of the action (Parkay & Hass, 2000).” The behaviorist theory negated to look at the inner workings of the brain, which is a vital component to understanding and implementing learning styles to include all learners. Personally I am a visual hands on learner, which until know has never been addressed. As educators at any level, I find it a disservice to all learners not addressing or taking into account learning styles.

The connections between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation are fundamental. It’s obvious to me that as humans we have to continue to learn and adapt to the evolving world around us. With each passing year new technologies are being developed and changing the world in which we live professionally, socially, and domestically. What I found striking regarding learning styles and strategies is how the brain and motivation play a significant role in the learning process. Depending where you are in life weather being a student in grammar, secondary, high school, college, or graduate school etc. the motivation for learning will different at each level in many ways. Based on the intrinsic and extrinsic values people are learning for different reasons. It is extremely important to understand those reasons to make the connection of motivation regarding learning and learning styles. The learning theories are behaviorist, cognitive, constructivist, social, connectivism, and adult learning. As we continue to educate ourselves and educate others we will utilize these theories based on motivation and desire of the educator and the student. The motivation and desire for an adult vs. a student in high school are completely different. The motivation to learn for an adult may be to advance his/her career or to obtain a promotion, on the other hand a high school student may view his/her education a trivial and at that age they fail to see the true relevance in educations because of the development of the brain. High

School students simply view education as hoops to jump through to make it to the next level weather its college or the work force. To make the connections between these polar opposites, we have to look at the brain and maturity of the individual. These are which I consider where we are in our stages in life and the pursuit success.

This Learning Theories course will help me further my career in the field of instructional design in many ways. As an Instructional Designer I think it is extremely beneficial to be knowledgeable of learning theories and learning styles because it provides the framework in which instruction can be designed. Success as an Instructional Designer is having students that succeed. If we are able to truly understand their needs and how they learn or their motivation, we can provide an extraordinary learning environment. The meaning of the word “Educate” is to draw out. As Instructional Designers we are charged with the responsibility to bring out the best in our students and understanding how and why they learn is a step in the right direction.


Parkay, F.W. & Hass, G (2000). Curriculum Planning (7th Ed.) Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon



Patrick Hopkins

Fitting the Pieces Together

Fitting the Pieces Together 

Based on all of the learning theories and the place I am in my life, I can best identify with Connectivism and Adult Learning. Looking back on week one I believed I identified best with the Constructivism Learning Theory because it equates learning with creating meaning from experience. If you look at the five assumptions underlying Andragogy (the art and science of helping adults learn) describes how I currently learn. The assumptions include:

  • Independent self-concept and who can direct his or her own learning
  • Accumulated a reservoir of life experiences that is a rich resource for learning
  • Learning needs closely related to changing social roles
  • Problem-centered and interested in immediate application of knowledge
  • Motivated to learn by internal rather than external factors (Merriam, 2001,p5)

I have learned over the past weeks that learning styles evolve. Based on where you are in your life, your learning style will change. I think its silly to think that every person has only one learning style. Based on my research learning styles will vary based on the criteria. For example, if you are required to take continuing education courses for promotions or increase in pay your learning style will become more internalized because of motivation.

Technology plays a tremendous role in my learning. Looking back over the mind mapping exercise gave me an eye opener as to how much technology play a role in my personal learning. The use of blogs is tremendous assets because it allows me share what I have learned and gives me an opportunity to express opinions based on my understanding of material that I have studied. Secondly blogs allow me to cross reference subjects that I am currently studying and provide a forum to express differences of opinions openly. With the use of e-books and the Walden University online library really make research quick and easy without wasting a lot of time and resources.


Patrick Hopkins