Distance Education Defined

Simonson defines distance learning as formal education in which the learning group (teachers, students, resources) are separated by geography and sometimes by time (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009). To me distance learning is defined as taking one or more classes via an internet classroom. Before starting this course, I had several years of experience as an online distance learner. I was able to complete my Bachelor’s degree online while working a full time job and raising two daughters. I had also participated in many remote professional development training sessions and since I work for a school system, I have seen how important distance learning can be in a school system for many different purposes. Resources this week have influenced my personal definition of distance education by reminding me that distance education encompasses any “institution-based formal education where the learning group is separated” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009).

In the distance learning environment, learners are separated from each other and from their instructors, therefore, the technology must serve as the connecting band. The distance learning experience works so well because of all of the different functions such as: communication, collaboration, course management, evaluation instruments, and learner performance tools. Even though distance learning is continuously growing, it will not replace traditional classrooms. The more technology evolves and advances the more distance education will also advance to reach more and more e-learners.

Distance learning will continue to make great strides in education and also in business. Distance education can and does play an extensive role in training and development providing companies ways to disseminate training, improve performance, and institute new procedures (Moller, Foshay, Huett, 2008). With technology more prevalent in business facilities distance learning models provide cost effective and time efficient ways of training staff.

I see distance learning in the future being used in every classroom to support children at all levels. For example in a mixed classroom with gifted children and regular children, the gifted children could use distance learning classes to enhance their learning experiences while the teachers were helping the other students. This could be used in all grade levels and could be used with iPads so that they could work on their own. With the fast growing technological advances, distance learning will also see exponential growth in the tools and support available.

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

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends


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