Category: Instructional Design

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.


Lewin, Tamar (9/27/11) College Graduation Rates are Stagnant Even as Enrollment Rises, a Study Finds The New Yourk Times, Retrieved from


A training manager is changing his face-to-face classroom into a blended course.  (Face-to-Face and Online Learning)  The main reason the course is being changed is to produce more quality in the communication between the trainees.  All the materials will be made available online despite where the learning took place.  Attached is a best practices guide for this trainer based on what I have learned through my Master’s program in Instructional Design and Technology at Walden University.


Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

I will be discussing the distance learning technologies that best meet the needs of the following example:

Asynchronous Training

In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.

This type of training would benefit from a linear programmed instruction model of online delivery.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)  Organizing the instruction into content that is easily organized into concepts will help ensure that the students will learn all of the material.

Distance Learning Technology

In an asynchrounous environment prerecorded media is going to be very usefull in the learning process.


Video can show employees how to be safe through demonstrations that show proper safety techniques.  These videos can also show what can go wrong when employees are not following the safety guidelines.  Since there have been some accidents at the plant there is the possibility to put testemonials of what went wrong and the consequences for their actions.


To supplement the learning modules, guided safety tours could be taken while using podcasts.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)   Employees would tour the facility while listening to a podcast that guides them through safety concerns.  The podcast could cover general safety, and tool specific safety.  Allowing the learnner to move around, view the actual machines they will be working with and discover safety protocols will reinforce their learning.  Creating “… when new information is presented, it is important that it be as realistic as possible.”  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)

Real World Examples


Shell uses podcasts to spread safety awareness to it’s employees, and as a reassurance to it’s customers.  The first podcast provides 12 safety rules to follow for keeping all staff and contractors safe.  Another podcast describes and encourages employees to be safety leaders within their work environment.  These podcasts provide learning opportunities for employees regardless of their location.


The FDA uses podcast to help educate people about issues of safety while using drugs in varying conditions.  The first podcast is about how Chantix may increase cardiovascular risk in certain patients.  Another podcast describes how abnormal heart rhythms may be associated with use of Zofran.  Some are meant for healthcare professionals and others for general use.

FDA logo

Eric Duffey


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

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.

Finishing up my learning theories class, it is time to reflect on the changes that I have gone through.  My understanding as a learner has changed and will effect the way I interact with my students this coming year.

Originally, I had described the way that I learn best through modeling, (behaviorism) or problem-solving, (constructivism), but processing through the different learning theories has led me to believe that I align most with connectivism, learning through interaction with people and databases.

As far as learning styles go, elaboration is my personal preference.  The most efficient way for me it learn is to elaborate on prior knowledge.  Working in the wood shop, I often have to help students develop unique projects which require a lot of problem solving.  The first thing I do is try to make a connection to any projects or processes that we have done that may be similar.  Using elaboration, the students and I find unique ways to implement foundational practices.

The most useful learning tools for me have come from google.  Google docs allows me to access my document them anywhere in the world, and it also makes backups of all documents so I don’t have to worry about my computer blowing up.

Google has many advanced and irregular search options that allow me to research ideas in different ways.  One example is the wonder wheel.  I type in learning theories and a dot is portrayed with learning theories in the center.  Each leg has different subjects pertaining to learning theories.  From there I chose behavioral learning theories.  I can continue to narrow my search to find more and more relevant content.

I plan to use this sweet little web tool to incorporate the cell phone into my 8th and 9th grade wood shop class.  Post a question on the board, students text their responses, and the data is calculated and displayed in real time, WOW.

Spent part of this week at a conference in Spokane and ran into some very useful tools, plus one I found on my own.

Xtranormal is an web based movie maker.  You get to choose a setting, how many characters you want in your movie, and then all you have to do is write a script.  You can make the film more interesting by changing camera angles, but it works well and is easy to learn.

Another free web based tool, Prezi is a useful for creating some truly unique presentations that remained focused on the content.  The introductory video is captivating, and would be extremely difficult to replicate in PowerPoint.

This last free web tool is one that I found because I needed to get some pictures onto this blog, but I am not at my home computer.  Easily found through google, I was able to push print screen, save the file as a .bmp, upload it to pixlr, edit the image, and save again as a .jpg.  Pretty amazing considering to be able to do just this little bit, but looking at the tools available there is much more I could do.

*Edit, I found that I could install an extension into Chrome that allows me to import directly into pixlr without paint.exe.

I found this one earlier, but this is also my place to compile these free apps.  Screenr allows you to record your screen with audio for free.  Very handy for walking people through a process.  Education made easy.

Enjoy the free web tools!!!!

Developed using

Technology has a habit of working it’s way into my life without me knowing.  This mind map is an exercise to acknowledge the connections that I have made to enhance my ability to learn through technology and people.

Learning about Theories

Through my Master’s program I have new connections that are helping me to learn in specific ways.  The classroom resources have broadened my educational perspective that will drive me through the next year as a teacher.  I have a good start on my curriculum but there is plenty of room for improvement.  Walden has helped me tackle ideas about instruction.

Learning through Examples

My favorite place to learn is through the professional blogs that arrive in my eReader.  These blogs quickly get me thinking about perspectives of education and provide real life examples of effective Instructional Design.  I have all of these ideas in my head of what makes up a good piece of instructional material, these blog posts put those ideas into action in a way that helps solidify them in my own mind.

Where do I find knowledge?

I had a leaking anti-freeze faucet in my backyard.  I needed to understand how the faucet worked so I could devise a solution so my first stop was the hardware store.  Just kidding, I type “fix anti-freeze faucet” in google search.  This is my reaction every time I have a question about a process, fact, phone number, and just about everything else.  Knowledge is at my fingertips.

My Network and Conectivism

Connectivism … I am a believer.  The fact that knowledge on any subject is available anywhere in the world and only a click away stands on it’s on.  My network is a simple example of how integrated a learner can be into the technology networks that surround them.

Understanding in depth functions of the brain is implicitly important when approaching any type of education, as a teacher or as a learner.  Here is a useful resource that discusses real world applications for the relationship between the brain and learning.

The site is developed and maintained by 22 professionals from the field.  Articles, blogs, games, images, and reviews and more can be found at the site.

I played one of the children games where the user clicks on the frog, a letter is voiced through audio, and the user must click on the correct letter out of five.  A full description and rationale on what is happening through this exercise is also explained.

Next I went to the image gallery to find illustrated explanations of how the brain and learning work together.  I found an illustration that explains what part of the brain is at work when a sound is heard and the hearer is attempting to determine direction of the sound.

When developing rationale for instruction this site is full of resources.

I ran into a resourceful website today that provides a description, diagrham, and links about information processing theory.

The site is a collection of information about the theory from other sites where others are able to submit and discuss the content.

The description is summarized in a concise way that enables quick understanding.

The site is well referenced with links to available resources that describe the theory more in depth.  There is also a list of articles that reference the theory.  Enjoy.