Defining Online Learning

Posted: 01/12/2015 in Assignments

Defining Distance Learning

I would say in the past my definition of distance education , was more ‘a method by which required information and resources were made available by an accredited university to gain understanding and knowledge regarding a specific topic; demonstrate understanding of this topic through writing a scholarly paper or successfully passing a test on the topic’. This definition was based mostly on my experience as an undergraduate completing my Bachelor’s degree through an online university.

During my undergrad experience the burden of learning was placed on the learner/student, through reading textbooks and writing papers showing understanding and application of the materials. Many of the courses contained tests and quizzes to test knowledge. The majority of these were multiple choice which “test higher-order learning, including conceptual reasoning” (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2013, p. 281). Course work included, course readings, individual research, weekly discussion question(s), team assignments, individual assignments, quizzes and tests.

Since starting this course (EDUC 6135) and others at Walden my definition of distance learning is now best describe as “an educational process in which a significant proportion of the teaching is conducted by someone removed in space and/or time from the learner” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Svacek, S., 2012, p. 34). The difference to me is the interaction and two-way communication between student-teacher and student-student. The instructors at Walden have made it a learning experience not a self-education process. Feedback in the past was minimal, especially on the tests and quizzes, you were only supplied with the question number you got wrong, and not why your response was wrong.

Based on what I have learned this week I have received both instruction, assessment, and personal feedback through two-way communication with instructors and fellow students creating a learning experience (Simonson et al., 2012). This has changed my definition. I am learning from an instructor who has a vested interest in my success, I have received constructive feedback to improve my skills, and I am applying my knowledge in a practical manner critical to the skills needed for my field. I can now “discriminate between well-designed and poorly-designed e-learning” (Moller, Forshay, & Huett, 2008, p. 71).

I can see if the right methods are undertaken to improve and set standards for e-learning, there are opportunities for new strategies and potential means for further personalization of learning experiences far surpassing what is available in a traditional classroom environment (Moller et al., 2008). I do not believe the traditional classroom will disappear. Rather, e-learning will become inclusive to the traditional classroom, and will continue to gain more acceptance as an alternate and effective method for learning. I hope to see the day where an online degree has equal footing as its brick and mortar counterpart in both the academia and the corporate world.

References

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). Tech Trends, 52(3) 70-75.

Morrison G.R., Ross, S.M., Kalman, H.K., & Kemp, J.E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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

 

 Click for Full Size Image of Mindmap

Distance Learning MindMap

Distance Learning MindMap

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Comments
  1. Dear Jordyn,
    Indeed, the application of material has fascinated me most in the MS in IDT course. I was never required to apply what I have learnt in my BA studies. Nor did I receive such high-quality personalizaed formative feedback as I am not receiving as a Walden online student. However, I must say, I am enjoying the benefits of distance education just because I was lucky enough to find Walden University, which offers the best online instruction available in many a national education market. Many universities make big promises but never actually act up to them. It might be that it is the lamentable learning experiences that online students often get that make people cautious and suspicious about distance education.
    Let me also compliment you on the mindmap you have created (especially the Future branch)!
    Thank you,
    Marina

    • jordynheche says:

      Marina,

      Thank you for your response to my post. I am also very happy to be enjoying the “Walden Experience”. I have very much enjoyed the practical application of each of the courses to this point.

      In my BA studies, there were elements of the instruction I found beneficial and applicable to my current position, however there was no ‘real world’ application for the most part required, it was up to the student to figure out how the information could be of benefit to them. The other part of the program that was very frustrating to me were the continuous ‘team projects’. There were very few individual projects, with the effort of peers counting for up to 40% or your grade. This resulted in a couple of the team members who cared about their grades putting in all of the work while other team members hitched a ride on your coat tails. I did not feel it was a fair way to be graded when you had to complete a non participating team members portion each week or everyone on the team was penalized, even if your portion was outstanding.

      I agree with you that many universities make big claims but do not deliver on their promises. Because of my undergrad work, I did a quite a bit of research to find an IDT program that was going to give me a quality experience and practical application of the materials. I am, very happy and pleased that I chose Walden.

      As to the Mind Map, I think the possibilities are endless, and is only constrained by our own imaginations.

      Sincerely,

      Jordyn

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