Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Future of Distance Learning

We are living in a socio-cultural transformation period.  During this period the institutional and traditional models are object of discussion.  New technologies are transformation and developing new models that integrate access to knowledge.  These technologies of information and communication have motivated a cultural and social change in our communication and the communication channels to share knowledge.  Distance learning continues to grow rapidly not only as a cost-effective option; also as a necessary tool in all educational areas and all types of business.  My perception includes a rapid growth that will be accompanied with the social webs.  The way that we daily interact with the use of Internet has transformed the society in one highly technological.  “Online environment has changed significantly” (Siemens, G. 2010).

As a middle school teacher, in my computer science class one of my biggest challenges is to train my student in the correct use of technological tools.  By the other side, it is my responsibility as a Instructional Designer to design learning experiences to share principles of technology integration with my coworkers.  Other teachers are exploring the use of new technologies without idea on how these could benefit our students and how technology literacy skills can be developed.  It is a challenge to design for adults (teachers) and for teenagers (students) on technology use and integration.

There is no doubt that we are living in a technological era.  It is very important to become a motivating agent to individuals and organizations.  Distance Learning needs to be promoted in different ways.  Many organizations have discovered the effectiveness of Distance Learning to provide trainings design to fit their particular needs.  In the educational area K-12, we need to start integrating tools that provide students with a new learning alternative.  A great example is the expressions of President Obama presenting the use of technology as the tool of the future.  We need to convince many educational systems about the use and integration of technology in the educational system.  Instructional designers should have the opportunity to develop different educational strategies including distance learning opportunities.

My experience at Walden has been gratifying as a student.  Being able to participate in a program that really works.  In 2000, I participated in online experiences that were totally different.  I also participated as an online teacher for high school students.  After these experiences I am a defender of distance education.  I have to consider how our society has advanced in technological areas.  As a teacher, I integrate the use of distance learning as a tool to help my students.  By the other side I try to influence other areas where I collaborate such as church and other educational organizations incorporating distance learning in different aspects of our daily life.  

In conclusion, as a student I can positively talk about the benefits of distance learning.  As an Instructional Designer I can assure that distance learning is one of the most effective tools of our times.  “We need to recognize the global dimension of education” (Siemens, G. 2010).  In corporations, industries and educational areas distance learning plays an important role in the development of instruction.


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

Video Program: “The Future of Distance Education” 2010, Walden University

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Converting to a Distance Learning Format
A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.
In this scenario the following areas will be consider:
  • Pre-planning strategies - Explore and select technological activities that will enhance the learning experience.
  • Aspects to enhanced - The use of different tools like wikis, chat, discussion boards and more will enhance the distance learning experience.
  • Trainer role - The facilitator will provide significant activities that will bring content to become meaningful for the learner
  • Student participation - The trainer will be a motivation agent where the student trusts and doesn’t fear using technology.
Click on the link to read more.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Impact of Open Source

  • Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment? How so?

Yale University presents a model of Distance Education Open Source well organized for the student.  After navigating for a while and visit various courses I felt comfortable with the easy navigation tools.  The goal of the university is to share information presented in face-to-face courses.  These are offered free with the purpose of sharing information and improve international relationships.  The courses are designed in a simple way and where students can interact friendly.  Each course presents the material in different forms such as readings, audio and videos accessing in a page of the course.  All videos are available through ITunes and YouTube, offering the opportunity of accessing it from their IPods, tablets and smartphones.   “The focus of the instruction shifts to visual presentations, engage learners and careful timing of presentations of information’s” (Simonson, et al, 2009).
Despite the presentation of the course is excellent it is obvious that the course has been design in a way that interaction between the learner and the instructor is not possible.  Other limitation could be that there is no evidence that the learner completed the course.  The course that I decided to explore was Roman Architecture of the Department of History of Art. To enrich this course the instructor Kleiner presents a study group using an external that provides space for a discussion board.  This addition provides that interaction piece fundamental in an online course.  I would say that the instructor took this initiative since the university platform does not provide space for this type of interaction

  • Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?
Yale University establishes clear communication in their about section that answer frequent asked questions.  This section also provides information about how each course has being designed.  Just wondering, does this course follow the recommendations for online instruction?  The interaction between instructor and student is not fomented. Other elements of distance education courses are also missing.  There is no assessment tool, discussion boards or a list of additional resources to learn more from the class.  I need to give credit about the alternatives presented, which include text in html format, mp3 audio, video in flash and QuickTime format.  These types of files become a valuable tool for those who interact with technology.  “This is essential for purposes of student intellectual engagement” (Simonson, et al, 2009).

  • Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?

This course was designed in a standard format.  To design a course it is important to consider the course outcomes.  “Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives is extremely useful in this process” (Simonson, et al, 2009).  This course in particular; Roman Architecture is designed with the purpose of sharing information with someone that has the need and interest of learning about the specific topic.  There are no assessments included to measure growth and there is no interaction between instructor and learner.  In my opinion this learning experience could be offered through ITunes as a podcast.  I understand that Yale University wants to present this course in a more formal format.  This offers the user a easy and fun learning experience.

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