Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Evolution of Distance Learning: Module 1

Blog Prompt: After reading the three articles by Moller, Huett, Foshay and Coleman, and listening to the Simonson video programs, compare and contrast the reasons these authors believe there is a need to evolve distance education to the next generation. Do you agree with their positions? Why or why not?

Everything must evolve. It is the natural order of things. Without an evolution, a change, or growth, stagnation settles in and all is lost or abandoned. Learning is no different. If an approach to learning is successful during a specific decade, the evolution of a culture will shift that success in the future and a new approach will need to emerge. It really makes sense. Our goal needs to be continual improvement.

Simonson, Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Coleman are accurate in their conclusion that distance education needs to evolve, as does education in the traditional sense of the word. A blending of the traditional and the distance education is one of Simonson’s conclusions. This argument best matches my own. The other authors seem to pigeonhole distance learning as a separate entity all together. In a way they are correct: distance learning should not be simply taking the traditional educational approaches and putting them online, and Simonson agrees with this argument.

In my mind the approaches of a distance learning experience should fuse into the traditional setting. It will truly shift the traditional approach of “professing knowledge” to the more innovative approach of “facilitating learning.” In the first trilogy of articles read, Moller and the co-writers argue that “while traditional instruction supports individual pursuit of objective and well-defined learning, it appears to be incompatible with the more social collaborative and dialogue-based learning models” (74). In fact, it shouldn’t be any different. Both the face-to-face and the distance learning environments should both do this well.

It's as if our focus needs to be on an evolution of education. And that evolution will result in pulling the best off the face-to-face settings (within and beyond the classroom) and the distance learning setting and infusing the best of each world within the setting that is specific to each. Now, that will be learning at its finest.

We are charting new territory, and our students will benefit!


Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning. (2nd ed.). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer) (2008). Distance Education: The next Generation. Baltimore, MD: Author

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, May/June). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 1: Training and Development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 2: Higher Education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.


  1. Stephanie Fuhs emails:

    I agree with your thoughts that we need to evolve education by taking the best of the face to face and distance education and creating a new educational platform. It is critical that we as educators play a key role in the evolution of educators.

    What do you feel are the best features of face to face teaching and distance education?

  2. Linette Cordell
    I agree with your thoughts about combining the best of of both de and face to face. What do you think the weakest area is in Distance Education?

  3. Linette,
    I think that the weakest area in distance learning is the establishment of community particularly at the onset of a learner's distance learning experience--high school. Much of what we study and the research that is out there surrounds post-secondary populations. I believe that the establishment of a sense of community allows learners to become more fully engaged in a course at any level.

  4. Stephanie,
    The best features of a face to face classroom is the ability to be present even when you don;t want to be. People are engaged with one another whether they want to be or not. Body language and eye-contact can tell a teacher or a peer a great deal about a person.
    The best features of distance education is that a learners sense of confidence doesn't have to be defined by their appearance or history with the same group of students since kindergarten. It allows you to learn in your own time. It is also engaging by the sheer fact that you are using technology as a basis for all your learning.
    However, the reality is that success in either setting is the result of the learning styles of the students and the teaching styles of the teachers. There needs to be a match, and if there isn't a teacher needs to be aware of it and shift their instructional approaches to meet the needs of the students. It really comes back to the reality that a person's personality plays a major role in the success of a learning experience.


  6. Thanks, to share good idea to keep it up.

    Distance Learning