Trends and Roles
Reflection topic: Distance Learning
Distance Learning is a mode of delivering education and instruction, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting such as a classroom. Distance learning provides “access to learning when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, or both. Distance education courses that require a physical on-site presence for any reason have been referred to as hybrid or blended courses of study. MOOCs (Massive open online courses), aimed at large scale interactive participation and open access via the web or other network technologies, are a recent development in distance education.
What new insights have you gained in terms of the variety of roles that adult educators play in distance learning? As a first year adult educator I’ve gained a deeper insight to the role that online courses play in our education system. I have learnt that remote locations/communities are estimated to still have a low internet training percentage, this maybe due to funding or access to computers, especially as one report had it, for the most northern Native Indian communities. So whether online education can help reduce potential barriers to accessing education, such as cost or distance, it appears that rural and small town internet users from more remote communities are in fact more apt to go online for distance education. My question is, can online education help reduce potential barriers to accessing education, such as cost and distance. It appears that rural and small town internet users from more remote communities are in fact more apt to go on line for distance education. Myself, living in a largely populated Native Indian community and also a very remote underserved community, I find this fact and insight very true today. As an adult educator I encourage our students to use our on campus computers to help avoid the wall of not having access.
What are some trends in your field? How are you preparing to address these trends? Today’s adult learners differ still from traditional college students. They tend to be practical problem solvers. Their life experiences make them autonomous, self directed, and goal oriented and they need to know the rationales’ for what they are learning. Also trending with Distance Learning is the learner’s motivation of professional advancement. Distance education also is now providing an option for students to obtain professional degrees without having to uproot themselves or their families. They no longer need to leave their jobs or decrease their hours of work and suffer financially, and are able to still take care of their families. So in turn students are shopping for courses that meet their schedules and circumstances, while still able to complete their degree or course. Wireless technology is a rapidly advancing trend that is not only making distance learning more accessible for learners on a daily basis but cheaper as free wireless cafes are available. Examples of these trends are smart phones, mini note pads (computers), Skype and texting, all things that were not available even 10 years ago for distance learners. As a faculty member, distance education will require us to have specialized skills and strategies to better organize our cyber class. As online educators we will need to be accessible to students and work in teams with our other faculty members. As Distance educators we will need to prepare ourselves to be highly organized and be able to maintain great communication skills, as there are usually no face-to-face real life opportunities with our students.
Reflect on the Web-Conference experience. How was it? What was one thing that you learned about from your
learning partner? Karen and I were very happy to have the opportunity to work on this Trends assignment together. Both as first year educators we learnt a lot about not only ourselves and each other, but also about adult learners of all ages in our class. We enjoyed our Skype conference and we tossed around many ideas as a topic but concluded on Distance Learning as we both live in an undeserved community and this is a challenge that our population face. We discussed the pros and cons on distance learning. We both found a lot of pro’s, I however found more con’s because I have many personal obligation such as a full-time job, a disabled husband and teaching at the University, as well as 1 last adult child still at home until the end of October. I would have much preferred face-to-face learning. Karen always brings forth such great insight to our topics of conversation and this was no exception. Her busy work schedule and also taking on an extra semester of students, taught us both how important communication and organization is not only for our students but our personal adult education path. Karen taught me to look at ideas in a more grey zone and keep a better open mind instead of being a