Thursday, December 29, 2011

Is distance learning evolving to the next generation?

·        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?
According to Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Coleman (2008), e-learning and the Internet can bridge the gap for students who attend K-12 schools.  Due to the teacher shortage and overcrowding of schools, new facilities are not being built and new teachers are not being hired.  Once educators are trained to use technology, they will be able to use it successful in online learning.  As an alternative educational experience, distance learning can offer a variety of courses such as remedial, credit recovery, advanced, and elective courses.  Administrators can provide course content which aligns with the standards and resources for students who are labeled “high-risk” students.  Teachers are able to contact students better through the use of technology.  Parents are able to assist their students with assignments, reading assignments, and use relevant resources.  Learners tend to work collaboratively when the learning community is supportive, sharing and building knowledge, and social interactions are reinforced.  Students are able to access the online course content from anywhere in the world.  Students will have access to tools and resources in one setting, and they can practice/study at their own pace.  The student population is varied.  Students maybe home-schooled, homebound, in prison, hospitalized, working full-time, travel for a living, and/or just want to better their educational career.  Smaller schools can provide rich various courses/options that other larger schools offer.  Virtual schools can meet the needs of the students by offering courses online and in a monitored computer lab.  Educators have an opportunity to use technology to deliver instructional information in their field of expertise.  In order for distance learning to be successful, educators must collaborate with their colleagues and students, and share a common goal.  Educators must design instruction that will meet the needs of its diverse group of students. 
According to Dr. Michael Simonson (2008), distance learning is formal education in which learners, teachers, and resources work collaborative to link teaching and learning together.  Distance learning has increased in the United States.  Distance learning will not replace traditional classroom settings, but it will be integrated into most learning environments.  Distance learning is different from traditional face-to-face education, but it is equivalent.  Learners receive the same outcomes with distance learning, and it meets the needs of the students.  Students are motivated to learn, do not have to quit their jobs, do not have to drive to campus to attend classes, and there is a return on the investment for universities and colleges.     
There are also disadvantages to online education as well.  According to Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Coleman (2008), policyholders do not understand online learning, and as a result funding may be limited in some states.  Students may not feel comfortable in online class discussions and other activities.  Students may be reluctant to interact with other participants in online courses.  Younger students may not be independent learners, and they may not meet the necessary requirements to complete online courses.  Online education may not meet the needs of the individual student who needs reinforcement, one-on-one assistance, and/or encouragement to complete the courses.  Student may not be able handle the instructional design in nontraditional classroom environments.  There is little to no research that online learning for K-12 schools is effective.  Studies show there are not any significant difference in face-to-face learning and online learning.  Educators are not well-trained in their subject matter, technology, and their duties and responsibilities in online learning, and training those educators can be very expensive to do.  E-learning needs to be evaluated to ensure it successful in the desired outcome. There are not enough training programs available for the demand of e-learning development. 
In conclusion, I agree with Moller, Huett, Foshay, Coleman, and Dr. Simonson that distance learning must evolve to the next generation.  Distance learning offers a variety of courses to meet the needs of its learners.   Learners are also able to participate in asynchronous, knowledge building, and supportive community to enhance their learning experiences.   Learners have access to their professors as well as the necessary resources to assistance them in being successful.   

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. Information retrieved from
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, May/June). The evolution of distance education:
Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 1: Training and Development). Tech Trends, 52(3), 70–75.  Information retrieved from
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, 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. Use the Academic Search Premier database, and search using the article's title.  Information retrieved from
Simonson, M. (2000). Making decisions: The use of electronic technology in online classes. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 84, 29–34.


  1. Shannon,

    I fully agree with your statements regarding K-12 implementation, funding, and professional development. You note that there is not enough training for e-learning. Do you believe there is a cost effective way to provide training to K-12 teachers to bring them up to date? One thing I have noticed about the large scale trainings in our district is that they typically spring from some sort of grant, instead of the base funding provided to schools. I know this is a reaction to all of the budget cuts, and an effort to retain staff. Do you feel this will be the continuing trend with professional development funding?

  2. SHANNON, You mention the type of environment that best supports Online learning through collaboration and the social behaior of the collaborative groups members. Is this a new skill that needs to be taught or explored in k-12 education?

    M. Fuller,

    I believe it will continue as a trend until schools recognize the steadfastness of digital technology and literacy in society.

  3. Shannon, Is distance education really evolving or is distance education, delivered largely via the internet, only adding to the current paradigm of school as a place? Jack Glasgow recalls the words of Sir Ken Robinson: ..The problem is they are trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past. And on the way they are alienating millions of kids who don't see any purpose in going to school. When we went to school we were kept there with the story, which is if you worked hard and did well and got a college degree you'd have a job. Our kids don't believe that and they are right not to..." Is that the fate of distance education or is there something else into which it will evolve?

  4. Durf, many distance education courses I have been in have done just that. The only difference between those courses and f2f courses was that they were Online.

  5. Luke, How true, how sad. How can we affect social change in this area?

  6. Durff,
    Distance learning is evolving to meet the needs of students who are interested in furthering their career opportunities. Majority of students who prefer distance learning programs choose online prgrams because they are unable to attend traditional classroom settings, have full-time employment, and/or have prior responsibilities that do not allow them to attend face-to-face classes.

    I preferred online programs because I have an opportunity to collaborate with other diverse experts in the educational field globally.

  7. Marvin,
    I hope that schools districts will offer more teacher incentives to their teachers/staff members to attend technology trainings. This will encourage more teachers/staff members to integrate more technnology devices into their classroom curriculum. Integrating technology will allow students to connect with others globally.

  8. Luke,
    Students who participate in K-12 traditional school settings should be encouraged to collaborate with their classmates and teachers. Collaboration wil assist students develop their social skills, self-esteem, and prepare them for real world oppportunities.