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Distance Learning Essay

Posted by admin as Example papers

Example Essay on Distance Learning

What Is the Future of Distance Learning?
I would like to start by saying that distance learning is a face-to-face set of instruction and interaction via the world wide web. The only thing that makes the distance learning distant is the physical separation of instructor from student as well as the use of some sophisticated delivery system. One should remember that distance learning is not new: in the late 70s and 80s, a great number of businesses and universities would develop telecourses that would provide proper training for the corporate employees while at work by using televisions and books. Such courses removed the need to commute and fly employees across the country to provide them with the needed education.

The Distance education comprises the basic three things (Williams, 74):

  1. Both the students and the professor are physically remote from each other.
  2. Distance learning uses things like Television, radio, CD and internet technology.
  3. The distance learning makes use of the sophisticated technology to assure that the proper communication channels contribute to the proper educational environment.

Speaking about some statistics I would like to note that 43 million students will be enrolled in distance learning courses in 2005, up from 710,000 in 1998. I need to add here that about 16% of all higher education students will take at least some distance learning courses in 2005.

The future of distance learning seems bright and cloudless. As technology grows the scheduling and delivery options will become more and more flexible and will fit virtually anyone from working adults, to housewives, students located abroad and in various remote areas, physically disabled (who find commuting very inconvenient), to the elderly who might find it somewhat embarrassing and tiresome to attend classes. Taking into account that the US population (as well as the global population) ages, it is very profitable for the universities to develop means to engage seniors and adults in their educational distance programs (Moore, 89).

The future of distance education will also mean that the educational facilities will strive to do everything possible to cater the needs of different groups as shown below (Williams, 78):

  1. K-8. Young kids might receive some interactive learning games from their schools in order to rehash the information learnt in school.
  2. High school. A great number of high school students work after school to save money for college and a car and find it virtually impossible to study well and work well. Distance learning will allow these students to rehash the learnt material or perhaps study some subjects that will benefit them in their college careers.
  3. Colleges and Universities. These educational facilities appear to be the first to start using distance learning and currently are the ones to possess the most expertise. They have the largest audience to serve.
  4. Continuing and vocational education. These courses might appear useful for those who want to learn some practical skill without formally involving into college curriculum. For instance, there are many of those who want to learn book keeping, car repairs, cooking, house management, marketing etc. in order to either improve themselves personally, impress the loved ones, or just to benefit their future career (Margit Misangyi, 132).
  5. Free courses. Taking into account the fact that the existing technology makes it rather cheap to serve a great number of students and citizens, the governments might use some free courses to make better citizens. For instance, it might be useful to provide a free course on how to avoid natural disasters (tornados, grizzly bears, tsunamis, etc.) or perhaps how to spot terrorists. By providing such courses the governments can assure that the population will not panic in times of disaster and will quickly recover after the disaster is gone (Simonson, 65).

I find it interesting to note that in the future the distance learning will involve more of a two-way communication as provided by video-conferencing, chatting and forums. Broadcast video and home video playback, things that are used at present in telecourses are likely to remain popular just like in the 80s when they were created.

In conclusion I would like to note that distance learning is not new, yet its future is bright. Distance learning originally used television and video tapes with lectures and gradually switched to using a two-way communication provided by the multimedia internet technology. Chatting, forums, video/audio conferencing, and emails are the tools that will likely allow distance learning to become accessible to virtually anyone who has a computer with the internet and a telephone. As the market for distance learning is expanding, the universities are considering various options to cater the needs of virtually any age or educational groups starting from K-8 and going to the elderly, who would like to learn something from their laptop computers, while at the same time enjoying the warm Florida sun and cocktails. I believe that in the future distance learning will teach virtually any course and will be available to anyone.

Simonson, Michael, Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education (2nd Edition), McGraw Hill, 2002.
Margit Misangyi, Watts, Technology: Taking the Distance out of Learning : New Directions for Teaching and Learning #94 (J-B TL Single Issue Teaching and Learning), Prentice Hall, 2002.
Moore, Michael, Handbook of Distance Education, NY Random House, 2001.
Williams, Marcia, Distance Learning: The Essential Guide, Penguin books, 2002.

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