Distance learning is getting more accepting as time goes on. With resources such as smart phones, tablets and practically any device that can access a wifi or internet connection makes distance learning that much more accessible. As the kinks of accessing the distance learning on those devices gets ironed out, more people are learning how to get equipped with technology as a resource and medium for communication. With social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging, “more of us are having experiences communicating online” (Laureate Education, n.d., 0:35). Therefore, the perception of distance learning will be a positive outlook on the advantages and convenience of better learning at our fingertips.
It is important to be aware of what is and is not working for current learners and to communicate that to the universities that provide online learning. The assessments that are conducted at the end of each course, hold a lot of value as in which areas need improvement. These need to be taken seriously by our industry, so that we can make the changes and hopefully come up with better ways for future learners. A difference can only be made if the areas that are not working start to get improved now, which can take upto five years for results to show. It is important to look at all of the industries that use distance learning, which is called the ‘triple helix model’, which concludes of government, educational and the corporate world.
As an instructional designer, I feel that by assessing the content design, through the eyes of a learner, is a good place to start. Asking myself, Does this make sense from a learners perspective? Do I feel welcome? Does the tone of the instruction sound cold and unwelcoming? We need to “bridge that gap of comfort, that’s the key challenge, learners need to be comfortable in the online environment” (Laureate Education, n.d., 3:58). We want to help them feel like its second nature to engage in their course with ease. Always keeping in mind, that we are designing for the learner, whilst taking into account that the platform still needs to be facilitated with an instructor presence. It is vital to stay up to date with what is happening in the online learning community and being open to experimenting with innovative ideas, but staying within the context of online learning. It would be useful to see what people are using to stay in touch with others and use technology as an advantage to opening up the horizons and endless possibilities of distance learning.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Laureate Education. (n.d.). The future of distance education. Retrieved
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