I found the chapters we read this week were helpful in connecting some dots for me about how distance education works. I’ve taken many distant courses, both online and correspondence. However, I hadn’t really thought about how distance courses were set up and planned. I can say that after experiencing the different forms of distance education, I prefer the way the courses I am taking now are run. I especially appreciate how our discussions are conducted. They are very similar to the description of Moore and Kearsley (2012), who wrote, “Discussions occur, of course, among students in a group, but these are only pedagogic dialogues when managed, however discretely and perhaps with minimum intervention, by an instructor, as a resource aimed at accomplishment of the educational objectives of a lesson”.

I decided to research best practices for teaching distance education and I was surprised how many websites and documents were available. I found something that aligned directly to what I’ve done in each of my online courses with UAS. The website stated, “Let students do (most of) the work.
Bill Pelz, a Professor of Psychology at Herkimer County Community College, asserts, ‘the more quality time students spend engaged in content, the more of that content they learn.’ You can reinforce this by letting students lead online discussions as well as finding and discussing their own online resources. A Wiki can be a good tool to have students discuss online resources” (Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, n.d.). I have to agree with how engagement and learning go together in both my personal education goals and teaching students in my classroom. When I am excited about learning, the content sticks better. I have watched my students show each other how to do tasks and have seen that when students become the “teacher” concepts solidify and stay with them.

Engagement naturally works well with motivation. It is easy to be motivated when the learning is exciting and interesting. However, motivation can be an area where people struggle. Again, I hadn’t thought too much about motivation in regards to distance education until I researched it. Obviously, I know that without motivation, students won’t succeed regardless of whether they take distance courses or are in a classroom. However, self-motivation seems to be a necessary trait for the distance education student. “Without the formality of the traditional classroom setting, learning becomes autonomous. It is up to the learner to take advantage of the opportunity for learning through discussions and other forms of interaction. If the learner lacks motivation, he/she may find it easy to withdraw from the course when confronted with the challenges of distance education” (Paul D. Camp Community College, 2003). When I saw the year that this quote was written, I thought about how technology has changed and evolved since then. But, this quote is still relevant and accurate. I think one of the most important things I learned from the reading this week is how much thought and planning (besides just content) goes into teaching a distance education course.

References

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. (n.d.). Ten Tips and Best Practices for Developing and Teaching Distance Education. Retrieved September 8, 2016, from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College: http://www.cincinnatistate.edu/online/news/ten-tips-and-best-practices-for-developing-and-teaching-distance-education

Moore, M., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Paul D. Camp Community College. (2003). Distance Education Best Practices Manual. Retrieved September 8, 2016, from Paul D. Camp Community College: https:// http://www.pdc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Manual_DL-Best-Practices-Manual.pdf

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2 thoughts on “Week 1: How Theories or Research Can Inform My Current Practice of Distance Learning

  1. Cherie, I agree that motivation and the challenges associated with it have not changed, and even in light of our use of distance delivery, and the technological advancements that have been made, the motivation piece resides in the psyche, and the goal is to find the key. In a FTF, all of the other forms of communication come into play, and can be used when attempting to find what motivates the learner, but with distance delivery, the teacher is limited and the student is as well. I appreciate your insight on this since it is the very basis of the teacher / learner interaction.

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  2. Cherie- I have to agree with you in how classes are ruined now. I love the way that we are interacting in our classes and we have the support and communication that we need. I have taken some classes that had no structure or communications and it was very frustrating. I agree motivation is a big factor for taking classes online. Without it then you will get behind, lost, and confused. I never thought much about motivation as well because I am already motivated and excited to be learning with a great teacher and great group of students!

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