For those of us taking EDUC 6135, Distance Learning, the last eight weeks have provided an opportunity to reflect on the educational format that we selected by enrolling at Walden University. As instructional designers, we have a stake in this topic since many of us will likely be involved in developing online courses in the future. The following are my responses to the reflection questions.
What do you think the perceptions of distance learning will be in the future (in 5–10 years; 10–20 years)?
The 2011 Sloan Online Survey reports that 6.1 million students are taking at least one distance class, and online enrollments are growing at 10 percent a year, compared to less than 1 percent for traditional higher-education classes (Allen & Seaman, 2011). Additionally, of the chief academic officers surveyed, 65 percent believe distance education is a critical part of their long-term strategy (Allen & Seaman, 2011). In a different survey, 83 percent of business executives expressed a favorable opinion of online courses (Zu, 2010). Furthermore, students now entering higher education have a “neomillennial learning style” that favors the use of Web technology in all aspects of their lives (Dede, 2006, p. 7). They expect student-centered, rather than instructor-centered, learning that is interactive and engaging (Siemens, 2006).
Although much skepticism still exists about the quality of distance education, I believe that a significant shift in public opinion will occur in the next 5-10 years. In the next 10-20 years, I believe hybrid and fully online curriculums will be the standard rather than the exception.
How can you as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning?
We can improve the perception of distance learning first by designing excellent courses in accordance with the principles we learned in EDUC 6135. Most importantly, we must develop engaging courses that are student centered, not instructor centered (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). We can also improve public perception of distance learning by participating in professional associations that promote our field and provide continuing educational opportunities.
How will you be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education?
I am currently a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the eLearning Guild, and several LinkedIn groups related to instructional design and organizational performance improvement. I believe in the principle of lifelong learning and, after receiving my degree from Walden University, I intend to continue expanding my knowledge through courses, workshops, and other resources.
Prior to enrolling at Walden University, I held many of the common misconceptions about distance education. Those of us in the field of instructional design, having experienced the benefits of distance learning, must be patient and understand that attitudes will not change overnight. As adults, in our lifetimes, we’ve all observed tremendous changes brought about by technology. Public opinion has shifted to accept many new activities resulting from technological innovation. Undoubtedly, we will also witness a growing acceptance of distance education in the coming years as it too becomes commonplace.
Allen, I. E. & Seaman, J. (2011). Going the distance: Online education in the United States, 2011. Babson Survey Research Group. Retrieved from http://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/goingthedistance.pdf
Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 28(2), 7-12.
Siemens, G. (2006, October). Connectivism: Learning or management systems? Retrieved from http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=243
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.
Zu, R. (2010, March 29). Employers on online education. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/03/29/cb.employers.online.education/index.html