THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF DISTANCE EDUCATION

What do you think the perceptions of distance learning will be in the future (in 5–10 years; 10–20 years)?

I disagree with this quote, “Without reliable, affordable, and equal access to the Internet, online educational resources including those developed and promoted by organizations such as the Khan Academy (see http://bit.ly/1e5kGyU/) will run the risk of becoming an elitist educational provision that will remain inaccessible to those without the requisite tools and technologies (Naidu, p. 266, 2014)

There will be more opportunities for individuals that need the flexibility of participating in distance learning courses. There are more MOOCs that are emerging like Alison, Khan Academy, and Udemy that are making learning subject matter more accessible. I also think that there will be more individuals that start designing and publishing their own e-learning assets for less academic subjects in the form of tutorial videos and webinars. The next 5-10 years will bring about opportunities for people to become better prepared to compete for better jobs and set up avenues for entrepreneurship. Distance learning will no longer be perceived as second rate education. I agree with those that believe that distance learning will no longer be the exception, but instead, become the standard as the economy becomes more and more dependent upon information technology and virtual collaboration.

In the next 10-20 years I think that the idea of distance learning will become somewhat obsolete. People will become more used to the idea of using the distance learning for acquiring new skills and adding to their professional repertoire. Additionally, more traditional brick and mortar institutions will offer more online courses in order to meet the growing demand and to compete with institutions that are already strictly online. The information age is creating a demand for people to become more technologically savvy, and since technology changes so rapidly, there will be a growing demand for people and organizations to stay current or risk becoming less employable or less marketable.

 

How can you as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning?

There is not one specific thing that I think would improve society’s perception of distance learning. However, I’ll be taking the time to learn how to become efficient and consistent in my knowledge, skills, and ability to make authentic and meaningful connections to help meet needs, solve problems and to provide resources, outlets, and support. I will be a motivator, encourager, and criticizer. Improving perceptions one at a time by empowering people and organizations. I will maintain a growth mindset that finds ways to cultivate learning that can maximize ROI for my employer and or client.    

 

How will you be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education?

Love to love learning, and learn to stay in love with the learning process. I will continue to learn how to implement new tools by compiling a portfolio and archives of my projects. ‘I plan on attending conferences such as DevLearn, Learning Solutions Conference, Deeper Learning Conference, and ASCD to remain a positive force in the field of distance education and also by maintaining an intuitive attitude and staying current and connected to the leading minds and practitioners in the field.

Finally, I think that constantly reflecting and being open to new ideas and criticisms is vital to becoming a positive force in the field. Wang and Torissi-Steele (2015) posit, “To pave the way for transformation of practices such that online teaching moves towards strategies where educators are facilitators, and where learners are more actively engaged, self-regulated and collaborative (Clemmons, Nolen, & Hayn, 2014) requires reflection on current practices.” To accomplish this I will seek out individuals that can serve as a mentor, persons that can share wisdom and experience with me and serve as a guide and confidant. Having one person or a small group to maintain my own level of encouragement and accountability will be paramount in maximizing my positive impact potential as an ID.   

 

References:

Naidu, S. (2014). Looking back, looking forward: the invention and reinvention of distance education. Distance Education, 35(3), 263–270.

 

Wang, V. C., & Torrisi‐Steele, G. (2015). Online teaching, change, and critical theory. New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, 27(3), 18–26.