The Next Generation of Distance Learning

Positive learning experiences help in discovering a learners true potential (Dewey, 1968). John Dewey (1969), a true scholar practitioner, was one who truly believed in experiential learning. Distance learning (DE) is the epitome of experiential learning. When discussing distance learning or as it is illustrated in various forms, online learning, having no limits to transferring knowledge to those who desire it regardless of where or who they are, will be able to unlock the world of the unknown just by the click of a finger. One factor of why DE is vastly becoming a legitimate outlet for lifelong learners is because of it’s growth worldwide and the accessibility that is now opening up to any and every community.

Hybrid learning, online learning, personalized learning, e-learning and blended learning are all components of distance learning which is now becoming common within our educational system. As more schools test this effectiveness of DE, students are beginning to reach their potential, let alone their grade level at best. Moller (2008), Foshay (2008), and Huett (2008) discuss in various articles the implementation of online learning and how it will and is changing our society both locally and globally. However, administering this new innovation in a very well thought out approach with key instructional design will help in fostering a more profound and advantageous educational system. Simonson (2000) also eludes to the greatness of what potential online learning can posses only if cyber discipline and the appropriate technologies are coupled with the right educational platform. This was illustrated in his three steps in achieving equivalency for all learners. Those steps are instructional technologies with available assessibility, determining the learning outcomes, and identifying and matching the learning experiences through the appropriate available technology.

What was common from all of these scholars is the agreement that equivalent learning experiences must be a factor in order for true positive and effective learning to be discovered. They all agree that online learning is not just beneficial for one particular system but key to educating all lifelong learners. The one caveat to this fact is the proper training and development must be issued to those targeted in order for true growth to ensue (Moller, L., Foshay, R., & Huett, J., 2008).

Dewey, J., (1968): Experience and Education. New York, NY, Collier Books.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Distance education: The next generation. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Equivalency theory. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008a, May/June). 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.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008b, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web; Part 2: Higher Education. TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.

Simonson, M. (2000). Making decisions: The use of electronic technology in online classrooms. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 84(Winter), 29-34.


1 Comment

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One response to “The Next Generation of Distance Learning

  1. Jennifer Smith

    Great post! I agree with you that training is an essential component to online learning. In particular, how to use the equipment and programs necessary to do the online assignments. When I worked for a community college, I had the opportunity to teach the academic success course. This course is required to graduate and teaches students the skills necessary to successfully earn their degrees. One of the assignments for this course required students to turn-in an assignment through Blackboard. It gave the students a chance to practice utilizing the program in a safe environment. I also learned a few things from the experience.

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