Previous Knowledge

Through personal experience my understanding of distance learning has changed as I have grown.  Prior to Walden and this course I would have described Distance Learning as learning that occurs away from the teacher.  This is very general and lacks the specifics of how instruction occurs, and who exactly is teaching.  I developed this definition by rationalizing and implying a meaning from the words Distance Education.

Learning Experiences

Viewing the Distance Learning Timeline helped me to further refine my definition for distance learning.  Becoming aware that this type of education had been attempted since the 1800’s made me step back and look at my own definition.  Being a technology native, I automatically had assumed that distance learning only occurred through the use of the Internet.  My definition also did not address the implications of other forms of telecommunications or the fact that people need to interact for learning to occur.  Students must be able to interact with each other, the course materials, and other students in an institutionally based program. (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)

Another interesting divergence concept of Distance Learning that helps me further define it’s meaning is that people are usually taught as individuals and not in groups.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)  Students are constantly interacting directly with their colleagues and/or the teacher and all of this interaction is able to be traced and therefore it is more difficult for a student to go unnoticed in a course.  They will be held more accountable for their learning because more will be required of them.

Revised Definition

Distance learning is institutionally based, separate from the teacher by geography and possibly time, and they use different forms of interactive telecommunications to work with teachers, resources, and other students.  My original definition was vague and general.  This new revised definition adds in important elements of a distance learning environment.  It clarifies that distance learning is institutionally based and separate from self-study.  Finally, the new definition is more accurate because it makes a distinction between and interactive and non-interactive learning environment.

Distance Learning and Beyond

Distance learning has proven to be on the rise.  Students are able to take advantage of a more variety of subject matter while in k-12, pursue higher education degrees on tight schedules, and it is possible to create a more personalized and engaging experience then a traditional classroom.  (Huett, Moller, Foshay, Coleman, 2008)  As distance learning grows in popularity and scope it is going to make the k-12 education system change dramatically.  I can not see how the traditional lecture format classrooms can be successful when I have seen the possibilities that a distance learning course can provide.  This doesn’t mean that traditional classroom will cease to exist but rather that they are going to have to take lessons from distance learning programs to remain relevant and effective.




Multimedia Program: “Distance Learning Timeline Continuum”

This multimedia, interactive timeline chronicles the evolution of distance learning from 1833–2009.

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

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