What do you think the perceptions of distance learning will be in the future (in 5–10 years; 10–20 years)?
Within 5 to 10 years perceptions of distance learning will change positively to allow more and more learners develop higher levels of confidence in this type of learning environment. It will take time, but with the technology advancing and being incorporated in educational settings more educational institutions will incorporate fully accredited programs and degrees to their online learning portfolio. Additionally, more corporations will incorporate online and distance education in order to up skill their employees. However to achieve this, George Siemens suggested that the increase of online communication, the growing comfort with online discourse, the ability to communicate with diverse and global groups, and having practical experience with the new tools are key components to increase the acceptance of distance education (Laureate Education, n.d).
Within 10 to 20 years, distance education will be considered the normal learning education environment where people at all ages and in different stages of life will fully manage their self-education from anywhere and at anytime. This is already happening at some degree, but in this scope of 10 years and beyond, learners will be able to build a professional portfolio with fully accredited courses and degree programs delivered through distance education. On the other hand, corporations will not show any hesitation in recruiting people with degrees gained through online and distance education, because this learning environment will have high levels of academic fidelity where the on campus programs, assessments, and learning resources are effectively transferred to the online environment (Gambescia & Paolucci, 2009).
How can you as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning?
As an instructional designer I can contribute in improving the societal perceptions of distance education by researching and designing learning solutions based on sound distance learning models and using the instructional strategies and tools to deliver effective distance and online learning courses that incorporate new communication technologies and use multimedia, games, and simulations to engage learners (Laureate Education, n.d)..
If learners are exposed to a positive distance learning environment they will be willing to go through distance education opportunities as their preferred choice of study. As McBride, McFerrin, Gillan, and Monroe mentioned (2006) learners “now dictate how and when they choose to take classes, secure degrees, participate in online professional development, and certification. Online learning is the future of education, plain and simple”. If instructional designers create distance learning solutions to tailor learners’ needs, then this learning environment will keep growing and societal perceptions will improve.
How will you be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education?
Online learning provides a myriad of opportunities for learners. With the exponential growth rate of online learning and the benefits that effectively designed courses provide, there is a need for instructional designers trained in distance education technologies and design (Weaver, 2011). I can definitely see my career going in this direction of developing online learning tools that could reach many learners around the world. I am also exploring rapid authoring tools and I started creating online courses and samples that I am sharing in the intranet of the organization where I am working. With my research in the field of distance education, exploring new technologies that can be applied in distance education, and sharing my knowledge in my blog and in my workplace I can contribute with the continuous improvement in the field of distance education.
Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
McBride, R., McFerrin, K., Gillan, R. & Monroe, M. (2006). “Back to the future”: a review of current trends, best practices and future applications in distance education. In C. Crawford, R. Carlsen, K. McFerrin, J. Price, R. Weber & D. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2006 (pp. 431-437). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
Weaver, S. (2011). An instructional designer’s role in online learning. In Proceedings of Global TIME 2011 (pp. 374-379). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).