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.
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.
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/