As I reflect on the knowledge gained from this course and my experience with distance education, I can say that distance learning will only grow more popular with time. As the Generation Z learners begin to knowledge seek, I see distance education being a must, not a want. With a generation of learners born with the latest gadgets in their hands, it will be difficult to offer them anything less than this.
Although Charles Wedemeyer’s theory dates back to 1981, I feel that he was forward thinking in his approach. Charles Wedemeyer’s theory notes several components that I feel will be imperative to the new generation. Wedemeyer’s theory notes that distance education should do the following:
1. Be capable of operation anyplace where there are students – or even only one student –whether or not there are teachers at the same place at the same time
2. Place greater responsibility for learning on the student
3. Offer students and adults wider choices (more opportunities) in courses, formats, and methodologies
4. Use, as appropriate, all the teaching media and methods that have been proven effective
5. Mix media and methods so that each subject or unit within a subject is taught in the best way known
6. Preserve and enhance opportunities for adaptation to individual differences
7. Permit students to start, stop, and learn at their own pace (Simonson, 2012, pp. 43-44)
This theory rings true to me because I have experienced it first hand as an Instructional Designer. In the last year, my organization has updated their technological tools, software and systems to new, efficient models. We are now using Articulate Storyline over Captivate, Adobe Connect over WebEx, and our new CMS has far more capacity than the last. As an ID, this lets me know that distance education is here to stay and there is a growing demand for it. Although there are a number of learners who still prefer traditional classroom style learning, “evidence suggests that students are increasingly demanding to be allowed to learn at a distance” (Simonson, p. 5). It’s all about options and not conforming to an outdated, rigid idea of what education used to be.
My role as an ID is to become a positive advocate for distance learning. I want to stay current with trends and technological tools so that I can educate others on the benefits of learning at a distance. I need to not only be an advocate but a catalyst of change, challenging my peers and organization to lead the charge in finding new and effective ways to deliver distance learning courses.
I think it starts with educating others and making them comfortable with the new trends of distance education. For example, providing personal testimonies from learners who found it difficult to embrace distant learning tools but later found that the new way made life easier. As an ID, it is powerful to know that I can shift a learner’s attitude about distant learning just by designing a course that intuitively speaks to them and ultimately motivates them to seek out distance learning.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.