There’s No Such Thing as Distance Learning

Web tools are eliminating the idea of Distance Education:

In 1779 Thomas Jefferson proposed a two track educational system with different tracks, his words for, “the laboring and the learned.” Scholarship would allow a very few of the laboring class to advance, Jefferson says, by “raking a few geniuses from the rubbish.” The distance in learning was designed to wedge an intellectual and institutional gap between the minds of those that worked with their backs for a living and those that worked with their mind. Frederick Douglass said, “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” The messy truth of the history of the US is that it needs mindless workers. The result of mindfully learned individuals could result in a revolt against an oppressive government.

Amy Collier gave a TEDx talk and posits that access, quality, inequity and relevance are the driving issues in education. The fact that only certain people have traditionally been able to access the resources, outlets, and support institutionally has been the number one leading cause for the idea of distance in learning. Why should there be distance in learning? There is certainly more than distance to time and space. Simonson would agree that distance can mean “…possible intellectual distance”, (2015, p.9).

There are two ideas that need to be taken away from all of this. The first, since Thomas Jefferson who is one of the founding fathers of the US and Public Education, had thus devalued the organic learning process by segregating access, quality, equity, and relevance, the public needs to decide what to do about these injustices and then determine what is the best course (pun intended) of action would be. The second, this is the information age and Weapons of Mass Distraction are on everyone’s desktop. The wedge is still there even in the age of information. Mark Burgess writes, “…information is not truly knowledge until someone relevant has a relationship to it,” (2015).

The Agricultural and Manufacturing Ages in the US have passed. In the Information Age, the world is a smaller place. Everything is becoming more globalized through technology and the world wide web. However, what is the value of knowledge? How does knowledge effect learning? What are people learning? How does what they are learning effecting how they perform? The US is still as capitalist as it has been since Jefferson. “Key motivating factors for corporate e-learning are predominantly economic… unfortunately in many e-learning implementations, effectiveness is either naively assumed or not particularly valued… more cynical practitioners observed that it often seems that managers or customers care only about the appearance of training.”(Moller, et. al., 2008).

The true worth of learning throughout the history of the US has been divided and devalued. Learning has always been and will become evermore critical. However, traditional education methods and processes have sacrificed organic learning for capital gains. The concepts of education, learning, training, knowledge, and information have been purposely muddled with devilish intent. Every individual person will have increased access to a world of information and it is the value and the purpose of learning. Those that design learning experience must realize, “interactive, real-time, on-demand, learner-centered, authentic and learner-constructed environments will characterize the educational environment of the future. Ultimately, the concept of distance will disappear as insignificant, and the idea of interaction will replace it,” (Simonson, p. 26).

This is an illustration of the future of what used to be Distance Learning:



Burgess, M. (2015). In Search of Certainty: The science of our information infrastructure. Segastopal, CA: O’Riley Media.

Collier, A. (Writer). (2013, June 20). The Brave New World of Online Learning: Amy Collier at TEDxStanford [Video file]. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

Frederick Douglass Quotes (Author of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass). (n.d.). Retrieved March 09, 2017, from

Historical Timeline of Public Education in the US. (2015, October 08). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008, September). The Evolution of Distance Education: Implications for Instructional Design on the Potential of the Web. Retrieved March 8, 2017, from

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)

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education).

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education











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