Compared to the last five years, distance education has advanced in its effectiveness of helping student learn new information and gaining the capabilities of using that information in their everyday life. In 1892, the University of Chicago was the first traditional college to offer a distance education program through the mail (Matthews, 1999). Student’s perceptions also played a large part in the successfulness in distance education during these times. Students may have felt that the communication was lacking, and they may have felt isolated in their education. Even with the inclusion of today’s technology, students continue to have perceptions that should be addressed in the design of a distance course.
Students today have many perceptions about distance education. One perception continues to be the delay in communication and the delayed ability to form a relationship with your peers and teachers. Another perception that students have is the inability to have practical experience with new tools or technology. Another common perception is that distance learning will not be effective to students that need direct interaction to learn new information. I believe that in the next five to ten years the communication between peers and their instructor will get faster, more frequent, and more advanced as technology continues to change. We will be able to leave video messages for our peers and the instructor to increase the interaction within the course.
The inability to have practical experience with new tools will definitely continue to be a perception because of the advancing rate of technology. As one of my interviewees stated, we will be able to use a virtual reality setting to practice using new hands on skills in an educational environment. Of course, students will be nervous to use this technology in an online environment when they have limited use of it in their everyday lives. As instructional designers, we must ensure that we design the course with the student in mind which includes their technological capabilities. To ensure that the student is focused on the instructional material instead of the technology involved may require a pre-course or optional supplementary resources (Lee, Choi, & Kim, 2013).
Even though there are some students that require direct interaction to effectively learn new information, I believe this perception can be changed by changing the individual’s beliefs about their responsibilities in the learning process and the advantages to a distance learning course. To be successful in distance education, a student must be self-motivated, have strong time management skills, and be more independent when it comes to completing research on a certain topic. Unlike in a traditional classroom, there is not an instructor to ask if you read a certain resource. As instructional designers, we can address this perception by incorporating certain tools to guide the student (Robinson, 2015). This involves using time lines and due dates to improve time management skills. Continue to describe the importance of learning the information being presented instead of simply posting information. The instructor designer can also motivate the student by presenting information in an interactive format as well as text (Khan, 2011).
To be a positive factor to education as an instructional designer, I will use the strategies that I have been taught and continue to remain current on new strategies and technology that are being incorporated into distance education. I understand that I need to keep an open mind and may be required to use creative methods to meet the needs of my stakeholders. I will also remember to design though the eyes of the student and address any common perceptions that society may have. In making a positive difference in advancing the effectiveness of distance education, this learning environment will continue to grow and welcome students of various settings, experiences, and backgrounds.
Khan, S. (2011) Let’s use video to reinvent education. TED Talks. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTFEUsudhfs
Lee, Y., Choi, J., & Kim, T. (2013). Discriminating factors between completers of and dropouts from online learning courses. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2), 328–337.
Matthews, D. (1999). The Origins of Distance Education. T.H.E. Journal, 27(2). Sept. 99. 56-66.
Robinson, T. (2015) Bring on the learning revolution. TED Talks. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFMZrEABdw4