After reading the three articles by Moller, Huett, Foshay and Coleman, and listening to the Simonson video programs, compare and contrast the reasons these authors believe there is a need to evolve distance education to the next generation. Do you agree with their positions? Why or why not?
Simonson says that distance education will evolve until distance education is “incorporated into most learning environments.” (2008). He believes that education at a distance should not be identical to the instruction given in a face to face environment; instead it should be equivalent. He believes that improving distance learning not only benefits institutions who can reach more students, but also benefits the student. The student can incorporate the flexible courses within their busy lives. Distance learning provides students increased access to the content they need to know to be successful. Simonson believes that distance education needs to be improved to maximize the benefits of distance learning.
The articles by Moller, Huet, Foshay, and Coleman also discuss the need for evolving distance education. They discuss how competition may have played a role in distance learning programs, describing institutions creating courses and programs as having a “land rush mentality” (Moller, Foshay, and Huett, 2008b, p.66). They also believe that companies using distance learning for training purposes put little thought into the quality and usefulness of the training, stating that “effectiveness is either natively assumed or not particularly valued.” (Moller, Foshay, and Huett, 2008a, p.70).
Both groups of authors believe that the move towards distance education wasn’t generally done in an organized and thought-out manner. Simonson commented about the initial push in distance education attempting to simply recreate the classroom environment and how the equivalency theory recommends that the distance learning provide equivalent experiences, not identical ones. Moller, Huett, Foshay and Coleman agree that more thought needs to be put towards implementing distance learning, with effectiveness being considered as a required element.
I do agree with the positions taken by these authors. My experiences with distance education, from four separate universities, has improved greatly through the years. Initially, I was simply reading course texts and submitting papers through email. This evolved into utilizing simulations for psychological coursework on behavior and exploring online resources like Google Earth. Currently, my online classes require me to collaborate with classmates, utilize multimedia presentations to synthesize information, and create units of study to effectively present learning experiences for my students. The layers of learning in distance education have increased dramatically over the past decade.
I also agree with their discussions on the possibilities for distance learning. The very nature of distance learning allows it to reach students who may not have had access to a brick and mortar school. It is also a viable solution for employee training, as it can reach a significant number of people once the course is created.
I think the quote that best exemplifies how I feel about distance learning, and its potential, is from Part 3 of The Evolution of Distance Learning. In it, Huett, Moller, Foshay, and Coleman state, “The effectiveness of distance education has more to do with who is teaching, who is learning, and how the learning is accomplished and less to do with the medium.” (p.63).
Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.
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.