Distance learning... Refers to an organized program of instruction in which the teacher and learners are physically separated. Is also known as distance education, distributed learning, distributed education, open learning, and open education.
Role of Technology Technology is employed in distance learning to facilitate communication between the teacher and learners. Sometimes it also facilitates communication among learners. Sometimes it is employed because it is an effective and efficient way to present content and engage the learners.
Why do distance learning? The key issue is one of access. Traditionally, educational institutions have been isolated islands of learning; people have been forced to come to the academy to seek knowledge. Distance learning allows people to pursue learning from different locales.
Access Issues Physical geography -- people may be located in rural or remote locations far from educational institutions (e.g., U.S. West, Hawaii, other countries, rural Indiana).
Access Issues Individual disability -- injury, illness, or handicap may prevent an individual from attending an institution.
Access Issues Reaching new audiences -- for institutions, a key attraction of distance learning is the potential to tap new audiences and thereby increase enrollments.
Access Issues Institutional resources -- a small school may not be able to justify the cost of a teacher of Chinese for the few students who might want to take it.
Access Issues Personal Resources -- affordability of education, especially higher and continuing education, is a key concern that may be addressed through distance learning.
Access Issues Time/Convenience -- increasingly, especially for adult learners, the biggest issue is time and the flexibility to pursue education amid other obligations.
Learning Setting Matrix Same PlaceDifferent Place Same Time Different Time Traditional Classroom Instruction Time-Shifted Classroom Instruction Synchronous Distance Learning Asynchronous Distance Learning
Traditional Classroom Live lectures and demonstrations Laboratories and other hands-on work Live student-to-student as well as teacher- to-student interactions
Time-Shifted Classroom Audio-tutorial and other modular forms of instruction Videotaped lectures Interaction may be mediated by technology or provided in separate sessions for that purpose
Synchronous Distance Learning Audio teleconferencing and radio Video-based lectures (both one-way and two-way) and television Interaction is mediated by the technology (often audio)
Asynchronous Distance Learning Correspondence courses Videotapes and other packaged instruction Computer-mediated communication and the World Wide Web (usually) Interaction is mediated by the technology
Recent Statistics In 1997, the U.S. Dept. of Education released statistics, gathered in the fall of 1995, about the use of distance learning in U.S. institutions of higher education. In 1995, 1/3 of all institutions of higher education offered some distance education courses. Over 25,000 courses were offered to 3/4 million students. Source: Distance Education in Higher Education Institutions, NCES 98-062, National Center for Education Statistics, October, 1997.
Recent Statistics Predominant delivery technologies included: –Two-way interactive video (57%) –One-way recorded video (52%) –One-way live video w/ two-way audio (24%) –Computer technology (e.g., Web) (22%)* * surely underestimates activity today
Recent Statistics Distance learning was targeted at: –Undergraduates (81%) –Graduate students (34%) –Professional and continuing education (19%) Distance learning was directed to: –Homes (49%) –Branch campuses (39%) –Other institutions (35%) –Schools (24%) –Places of work (18%)
Teaching at a distance requires... Planning and organization (often far beyond what a “normal” class may require) A systematic approach to instructional design Methods to actively involve students at remote sites Appropriate technologies for communication and information exchange
Teaching at a distance requires... Effective use of visual communication, especially for video Presentation skills, especially for video Appropriate means of evaluating learners Support of facilitators, technical personnel, and administration
Distance Learning Part Art Part Science Part Technology