The Distance Learning course at Walden University helped me to understand the foundation, theories, and models of distance learning as well as the appropriate technology tools used to enhance the distance learning experience. As a future instructional designer, I believe that the awareness of the distance learning foundation contributes to understanding the future direction of distance learning. I will briefly discuss my future perception of distance learning.
Unfortunately, societal perception of distance learning is not always positive. Therefore, the awareness of which distance learning theory, model, and technology tools should be used as an instructional designer could positively contribute to the improvement of distance education perception. With this consideration, I will also discuss potential contributions to the improvement of distance learning education.
Future Perception of Distance Learning
George Siemens believes that distance education is going in a direction that includes “new communication technologies” and more “contributions by experts around the world”. I agree with this future perception because the technology used to communicate at my employer has advanced within the 5 years that I’ve been employed. When I first started at Pearson, we completed face-to-face meetings and occasional conference calls. As our company grew and restructured, our management shifted. Our new assigned manager was in Chicago even though our team was in Orlando, Florida. As a result, our one-on-one meetings with our new manager were via Google Hangout, (which is a video chat technology tool). As technology continue to improve, our communication with people around the world will continue to increase. I believe we will be able to gain more knowledge from experts around the world as communication technology increases.
Contribution of Societal Perceptions
Distance learning models, theories, and technology tools should all be assessed prior to contributing to the growth of distance education. Many people in society are opposed to distance education growth when they don’t have the following:
- Knowledge/Experience in technology tools.
Dr. Piskurich says, “Technology should be used to take the place of the classroom and the best delivery method will be depended on the learners’ access, knowledge, and availability.” However, if learners don’t have any knowledge or experience in the appropriate technology tools, then it’s difficult for them to see the value of using the technology tools versus the traditional learning environment. As an instructional designer, I have an opportunity to contribute to societal perceptions by ensuring that learners have access to the technology tools as well as provide support training on how to use these tools.
- Lack of understanding of learning theories.
Theory supports the basis of distance education. Functional context theory is one of many learning theories available for instructional designers to select when building courses. Tom Sticht established the functional context theory. “The functional context approach was developed specifically for adult technical and literacy training (reading/writing/mathematics) in military programs, but it has implications for learning of basic skills in general.” It is imperative for instructional designers to know that learning theories should support with the needs of learners. It is also essential for instructional designers to select the appropriate learning theory as well as understand how to communicate the relevance of learning theories to learners. This positively contributes to societal perception of distance education.
- Lack of awareness of distance learning models.
Similarly to learning theories, there are also several distance learning models available for instructional designers to select when developing courses. The learning models should also support the needs of learners needs. The selected learning models should also be taught to learners so that they fully understand the relevancy. This could cause learners to see the value of distance education.
Societal perceptions could improve when instructional designers address learners technology considerations, teach learning models, and explain learning theories. The more technology increases, the more access society will have to retrieve positive contributions, (such as new technology, new learning theories and new learning models) from experts around the world. I believe that is the future of distance education.
Functional Context (Tom Sticht). (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2017, from
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Planning and designing online courses [Video file].
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McKnight, J. (2017, September 24). Course Project Analysis Matrix.