Distance Learning Present and Future

The current view of distance learning is based on skepticism. Overall students have had success with distance learning, and students have had disappointments. I like to look at the contrast to traditional classrooms. In Texas given 100 students who started college courses, 13 of them will graduate with a degree. (Tamar, 2011) In the study, one of the main reasons that students do not graduate with a degree is because, “Life gets in the way.”

Distance education will be able to work around life in a way that the traditional classroom is not able to for the 87% of students who are not able to finish a degree program. Because of this advantage the popularity and usefullnes of distance education is going to flourish in the future. Brick and morter classrooms will have difficulty keeping up with distance learning courses because of financial concerns and it’s rigidity on a schedule. To go to college, a graduating senior more than likely needs to find a place to live, a way to make money, and make time for their education. This is extremely limiting to individuals without financial backing, therefore distance education is a more obtainable goal than going to a brick and mortar university.

Improving Societal Perceptions

As an aspiring instructional designer, I am excited to begin work on projects to improve instructional approaches in new and creative ways, but I do realize that I will not be fully embraced until perceptions change toward my profession and distance learning. As an instructional designer, I am inherently an educator and I believe the best way to change perceptions is to educate people about the benefits of distance learning. When promoting distance learning programs, prospective learners need to be educated about what is expected from a student through the course, the way learning occurs, and how they will meet the learning objectives.

The most important way to improve perceptions is to create rewarding, effecient, and effective learning experiences in distance learning. Through my interviews about distance learning, it was clear that when students were going to look for a place to learn the first thing they would do is research the program online, specifically looking for student feedback. Our culture communicates effectively through the internet about every subject, and instructional designers need to leverage this attribute of our society to improve how distance learning is viewed.

Becoming a Positive Force for Distance Education

As an instructional designer, the number one way that I can move the improve the profession in the eyes of the public is to create consistent, quality, and relevant learning experiences online. Creating these experiences for learners will ensure that they strongly consider distance learning for their future development, and also recommend distance learning to their colleagues, friends, and family. In short, the best way to promote distance learning is to do my job well in every aspect.

References

Lewin, Tamar (9/27/11) College Graduation Rates are Stagnant Even as Enrollment Rises, a Study Finds The New Yourk Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/27/education/27remediation.html

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