As I reflect back on this distance learning course and on all that I have learned over these past eight weeks, I realized that distance education is going to continue to grow and will be in higher demand as the technologies evolve. Simonson defines online learning institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012). Almost every student now will have access to at least one online distance learning class during their school years. Businesses will also widely accept distance learning courses because it will save them money and resources and also allow them to interact with their different offices from anywhere in the world.
In the next 5-10 years, I believe that more and more learners will turn to distance learning instead of the traditional classroom setting. With the easy access of distance learning, especially to adults with families and jobs, working adults will take online classes to make themselves more desirable for career changes or job promotions. As the country faces many economic problems like reductions in the amount of money provided to K-12 education and outsourced jobs – distance learning provides some sort of relief to those problems. Traditional higher institutions are more expensive that online distance education. One important thing that I learned was that there are some free Open Source Courses available online in a variety of topics and subjects.
Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2012) contend distance learning will not replace face-to-face educational settings. I do have to agree with that statement, because there are some learners that need that face-to-face interaction in order to learn. In the coming years, I see distance learning being accepted in all facets of learning, from K-12 to higher education. Even today, for students in my school system that are not adapting and excelling in the traditional classroom setting, distance learning classes are an option for them to receive their high school diploma. I see distance learning also becoming more and more favorable to learners that live in countries outside of the US like Asia and Africa.
As an instructional designer, I will do my best to promote society’s perception of distance learning by advocating its benefits and also contributing to the field. By being involved in distance education classes, I have learned to analyze the learner’s unique needs before moving any traditional learning course into an online learning setting. My role as instructional designer would also involve creating effective ways to use the communication tools that are available to ensure that the learners maintain a high level of motivation and that student participation is ongoing. The designer will need to assure the high level of student involvement required for success (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012).
I will strive to be a positive force for the continuous improvement in the field of distance education by staying abreast of all the new advances in the technology and instructional field. I will make it a point to read professional magazines and articles that relate to the field and also keep in touch with other instructional designers that may be able to share their experiences and insight into the business. I already have some long term goals in mind to help train some of my co-workers in professional development classes.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.