The definition of distance learning will never be finalized because just when we think we have found the right words to describe it, our concept of distance learning begins to change. I believe the definition of distance learning is always changing because the tools and resources that make distance learning possible are continually changing. I also think these changes are based on a person’s professional field. Each field has its own unique standards and time constraints that affect components of distance learning.
Before I began this course on distance learning, I thought distance learning was all about location. Distance learning meant taking a course at a different school while being registered at another school. For example, a student could attend Florida State University and take a summer course at the University of Central Florida. The student would attend a face to face class at the other university. There was no online option. However, as the popularity of computers increased, I saw my concept of distance learning quickly change.
This week I learned that distance learning can encompass a combination of tools and resources. Distance learning can be a combination of face to face and online learning. Students can complete portions of a course online and others in the presence of a teacher or proctor. Students can now take courses online from the comfort of their own home or any location in the world. With a strong internet connection and a reliable computer, learning can take place anywhere the student is located. Instructors can bring the outside world into the classroom and bring their lesson plans to life. For example, an art class can tour a museum located on the other side of the planet online.
Distance education is an institution based, formal education where the learning group is separated, by geography and/or time, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). Tools, such as YouTube, video conferencing, and the iPhone have made it possible for students to access course materials wherever they are located. Students and instructors can live in different time zones, but still connect with one another.
Distance education is the future of learning and will soon be an integral part of all classrooms. I believe the Internet and technology have helped increase the popularity and availability of distance education. I do not think it will replace traditional learning institutions. I believe it will be infused into these traditional environments to better facilitate learning (Laureate Education, n.d.).
Coleman, C., Foshay, W., Huett, J., & Moller, L. (2008). The evolution of distanceeducation: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63-67.
Foshay, W., Huett, J., & Moller, L. (2008). The evolution of distance education:Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70-75.
Foshay, W., Huett, J., & Moller, L. (2008). The evolution of distance education:Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Distance education: The next generation [Videofile]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance:Foundations of distance education.