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.
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