Instructional Design and Technology

This blog was created as a class project for my Instructional Design and Technology degree from Walden University. Blogging is an educational tool that can be used to share information with my fellow classmates and vice versa. I hope you find this site both informative and useful.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflection on the Future of Distance Education

      Everyone seems to agree that the emergence of distance education is due to the advancement in communication technology and the supporting infrastructure enabling worldwide delivery of information . Distance learning has become increasingly popular in the past two decades with more and more universities offering a wide variety of online degrees. So far, the popularity of distance learning has been credited to the flexibility and convenience that it offers (Gambescia & Paolucci, 2009), but what about the next decade? Will distance education continue to improve and expand, or will it fall by the wayside like other educational endeavors such as educational television? Will it surpass and eradicate the brick and mortar educational system?
             There are several reasons why I think distance education will continue to develop and will eventually replace many of the brick and mortar schools. One reason has to do with the future of the job force. Because of changing economies, employees can expect to change careers several times in their life span. This leads to a need for lifelong learning. In order to stay current in their profession or trade, employees will need to have information readily available for learning anywhere at anytime. Learners will not always have the time to attend F2F classes. Globalization will also continue to feed the need for communication and learning worldwide. Corporations will increasingly seek partnerships with universities to disseminate this information to its employees all over the world forming a triple helix model of education (Siemens, 2010).        
            Another reason why distance education will probably continue to evolve is the new generation of learners. According to Prensky (2001), today's students have grown up with technology and as a result, students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. This new generation of learners craves information and wants to be actively engaged with the learning experience. They would rather discuss and debate information with others rather than having information disseminated by an instructor lecturing in a classroom. Therefore, distance education will need to incorporate the latest technologies into the online classroom to maintain the interest of these digital natives (Prensky, 2001).
             If distance education is to move into the next phase, it will not only need to be flexible and convenient, but provide learning that is highly engaging using technology which will enable interaction between learners, teachers, institutions, and among learners themselves. It will need to be of the highest quality based on sound pedagogical theories and principles. Just using F2F material delivered online will not suffice to meet the future demands of interactivity. This is where instructional designers (ID) will come into play.
            According to McClintock (1992), the most difficult task in making a new educational system, will be reorganizing the culture to adapt it to the use of digital technologies. IDs should not determine what the curriculum comprises, but it should shape how educators organize the materials of the curriculum. IDs can create a new system of education by redesigning schools to take advantage of networked, intelligent multimedia. To change the pedagogical world, educators need both material agency and humane vision, in other words, both power and pedagogy. To change the world, people need reasons to take risks, to incur resistance and hazard failure (McClintock, 1992). IDs must be willing to take this risk to establish newer, more effective methods of transferring information.

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 12/17/2010 from
McClintock, R. (1992). Power and pedagogy:  Transforming education through information technology.  Institute for Learning Technologies.  Retrieved 12/24/2010 from
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(59), 1-6.,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Siemens, G. (2010). The Future of Distance Education. [Online video] Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved December 17, 2010, from

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