Bittersweet

         The completion of this course brings both joys and sadness. The joy of receiving a well deserved break after such and rigorous course and the sadness of ending something that was truly starting to make my brain fire on all cylinders. Distance education has such a deep meaning to all of us because we as learners felt strongly enough about it that we have enrolled in it and are submersed with it’s meaning. The future of distance education is strong and will continue to show prominent growth. There are several ways we as instructional designers can continue its growth and advocate for its effectiveness. Utilizing theory, connecting the content to the learner, and staying educated on new technologies will help improve the field of distance learning in a positive and meaningful way.
         The future of distance learning will continue to grow because of advancements in technology and more people understanding the value of it. However, technology has allowed corporations and businesses to decrease the cost of services provided. Corporations use technology to lower prices to the consumer but education tuition and rates continue to increase. Wadsworth (2012) states “The overall inflation rate since 1986 increased 115.06%, which is why we pay more than double for everything we buy. On the other hand, during the same time, tuition increased a whopping 498.31%” (Para. 3). These inflated rates must stop or the success of distance education could be impacted. If the rates maintain while the rigor and job placement increases then distance education will blossom.

ImageImage retrieved from http://inflationdata.com/inflation/images/charts/Education/Education_inflation_chart.htm

         There are many ways we can advocate for distance learning. First and foremost, graduates of online programs that are proficient in his or her job will help any scrutiny that distance education faces. Showing the corporations that we are just as knowledgeable as a brick and mortar university is critical. “In a survey done by online institution Excelsior College and Zogby International, 83 percent of executives in the survey say that an online degree is as credible as one earned through a traditional campus-based program” (Zupek, R., 2010). I believe this percent will continue to increase as distance learning continues to grow.
         There are three things that will help me be a positive force in the distance education field. First, understand the different theories or methods and how to incorporate the correct one into the learning objectives. Simonson et al. (2012) states, “theory is important to the study of distance education because it directly impacts the practice of the field” (p. 41) Second, we must connect the content to the learner and create a community. Siemens states, “a community is the clustering of similar areas of interest that allows for interaction, sharing, dialoguing, and thinking together” (as cited in Kop, R., Hill, A., 2008). Third, we must continue to gain knowledge in new technologies within distance education. Together, these three things will help me become proficient in the distance educational field.
         Overall, this course has helped me step closer in joining the field of instructional technology. I think that I have the motivation and desire to continue to learn about new technologies in the field. My experience regarding theory needs improvement, as well as my understanding on how to connect the content to the learner in a more proficient way. In golf terms, I have just hit a great drive in the center of the fairway with a nice approach shot ten feet left of the flag. With a few more classes and some more experience that ten footer for birdie will almost feel like a gimme.

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References

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, 9(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/523/1103

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Wadsworth, G. (2012). Sky Rocketing College Costs. Retrieved from http://inflationdata.com/inflation/inflation_articles/Education_Inflation.asp

Zupek, R. (2010). Employers on online education. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/03/29/cb.employers.online.education/

 

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Converting Distance Learning Format

Prior to this course I would think nothing of converting one of my classes to a distance learning format.  It seems if you have the content available, then it is just a matter of uploading it online.  Boy was I wrong.  In order to successfully convert a class to distance learning a lot of planning and preparation must take place.  Using the scenario provided below I have created a Prezi to bullet some of the key ingredients needed to implement and sustain such a class conversion.

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Scenario

A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.

 

If you have problems watching the Prezi, wordpress does have issues supporting it.  Here is a direct link to the Prezi

http://prezi.com/zabracowtdpl/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

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Image from Ballentine, A., McKenzie N., Wysocki, A., Kepner, K. (n.d.) The Role of Monetary and Non-Monetary Incentives in the Workplace as Influenced by Career Stage.  Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/HR/HR01600.pdf

Digital Typography with MIT

When I look at the concept of Open Courses I am immediately impressed. These schools are offering learners the ability to gain knowledge for free. In some ways it reminds me of projects I do around the house. I am the type of person that would rather learn something new then pay someone to repair it. Over the years, YouTube has been a blessing for my home repair projects. However, after several attempts to locate a course that would fit my needs, I started to become disappointed. Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered the type of course I was looking for with Digital Typography. At a quick glance, it seemed to have everything I needed, syllabus, calendar, assignments, and projects with examples, all downloadable. As I dove further into the curriculum I started to get the feeling of “you get what you pay for”.

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After five weeks I am really starting to think as instructional designer. When reading through these courses, theory kept popping in my mind. These open courses have a lot of characteristics of the Theory of Independent Study by Charles Wedemeyer. Simonson et al. (2012) states, “Wedemeyer set forth a system with 10 characteristics emphasizing learner independence and adoption of technology as a way to implement that independence” (p. 43). Since these courses offer the ability for learners to simply gain knowledge, independence becomes critical.

MITOPENCOURSEWARE

Course – Digital Typography

Instructor – John Maeda

Level – Graduate

Link–  http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/media-arts-and-sciences/mas-962-digital-typography-fall-1997/

The course from MIT does meet some of the guidelines for the “perfect” online course according to Simonson et al. It offers assignments, a textbook, and plenty of student examples based off the ten assignments given. However, I find that it lacks more than it should. Visually, it does not offer any videos or lectures with audio. Also, the syllabus is very weak and only offers limited information about grades, handouts, exams, and late work. Simonson et al. (2012) explains, “the course syllabus is the “glue: that holds the course or the learning experience together” (p. 259). Offering a more detailed explanation of each category will help set the stage for each learner. The course also does not allow any feedback from the instructor. Feedback is critical, especially with younger learners. Morrison, states “Prompt feedback allows students to assess existing knowledge, reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to learn, and receive suggestions for improvement” (as cited in Morrison, D., 2013). This seems to be a common problem found in many free programs. Another issue evolves around the date the class was taught. A course that is 17 years old could have some dated information, especially when it is based around digital typography.

It is honestly hard for me to critique a course that is offering something for free. However, it seems that many of these open courses either offer plenty of visuals but lack assignments and projects or provide the exact opposite. If a learner is looking to gain some knowledge in a particular subject, than open courses could be an option. However, these courses show little, if, the attempt is to create the “perfect” online course.

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References

Maeda, J. (1997). Digital Typography. MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved from http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/media-arts-and-sciences/mas-962-digital-typography-fall-1997/index.htm (April, 5th, 2014)

Morrison, D. (2013). Four Good Reasons Why Students Need Instructor Feedback in Online Courses. Retrieved from http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/four-good-reasons-why-students-need-instructor-feedback-in-online-courses/

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance:Foundations of distance education. Boston, MA: Pearson