Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Future of Distance Learning

Today we are living in the “digital age” also known as informational era. The proliferation of technology has given tools for everyone to have access to information at their hands. As individuals, the use of technology is part of our daily lives. Every company has at least a computer, a third part of our population uses the Internet in a daily basis, around 75% of the persons in the US have computers at home, the use of smart phone, television, tablets, handheld devices and video games is growing quickly. Technology is part of our lives. Every interaction with these new technologies facilitates learning. Many persons refuse to accept distance learning as valid compared to traditional learning due to lack of experience, past experience or ignorance about the learning environment design.

Our educational system is promoting the integration of technology in the learning process. Our students are experiencing how to learn from the use of technology; opening doors to evolve into distance learning. My first experience with distance learning required; learning the use of the technology, developing research skills, developing navigation skills and learning the subject being taught. Many students were scared of taking distance-learning courses due to these facts. Today, our students are developing technology literacy skills as part of their daily interaction with technology.

In five to ten years, distance education will be accepted as valid as the traditional model. “If we can bridge that gap of comfort so they experience the environment, they will naturally take in to it” (Siemens, 2010). Educators have the responsibility of integrating a variety of technologies. Communication tools such as Skype has provided practical uses that facilitate the adoption of these technologies as educational tools. In the future distance education will become an option for all learners depending on their circumstances and learning styles.

As an Instructional Designer I can design activities that equip the learners with the necessary tools to be successful in a distance-learning environment. The use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter can be used as a promotional space to provide orientation and support to those that are in the transition of adopting a distance-learning program. “While it is unlikely that social networking has great potential for teaching and learning, these sites are important cultural even recruiting resources for educational institutions. They are also important in expanding technological literacy of our students” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009, p. 246). Effective communication is vital to improve the perceptions of distance learning; being isolation, one of the primary myths about distance learning. I also believe that Instructional Designers should adopt the latest technologies and integrate them into the learning environment.

To teach; I have to model. As a participant, facilitator and designer I can continue to share and influence learners around me. As an elementary education teacher I plan to integrate distance-learning activities that will develop technology literacy skills to prepare my students for future courses. Developing technology literacy skills at early ages guide our students to communicate globally. Our world has become flat. Communication tools have minimized geographical separation. By positively influence others we can “prepare our students for global dimensions and jobs around the world” (Siemens, 2010).


Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010). “The Future of Distance Education”. [Online]. Retrieved from Walden University eCollege.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

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