Distance Learning Essay

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Distance Learning

Distance learning (education) has become an integral part of the education process over the past few decades and is growing in popularity as technology advances.(Willis 1992) describes distance education (as) "the organizational framework andprocess of providing instruction at a distance. Distance education takes place when ateacher and student(s) are physically separated, and technology…(is) used to bridge theinstruction gap." (Coutts 1996). Furthermore, "distance learning activities are designedto fit the specific context for learning, the nature of the subject matter; intended learningoutcomes, needs and goals of the learner, the learner's environment and the instructional echnologies and methods." (American
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Also technological decisions should be based on instructional content, the need for involvement, and the particular learning outcomes desired. (Counts 1996)

"There is some evidence that the success of distance education in schools depends largely on the effectiveness of the teacher, and that this is in turn depends on the teacher's knowledge, skills, enthusiasm, and commitment to innovation." (Moore & Thompson 1990).

When planning distance education, Willis (1998) lists a few factors to consider:

Distance education is about increasing access, not saving money. The technical, logistical and support costs can be very high. Therefore, the financial aspects must be considered.

Nothing should be assumed. Decisions should be based on definable problems and tangible customer needs. A needs assessment, though time consuming, may be worth the time to complete.

Realize that good plans are never finished. Rather than wait until all issues are resolved and a long-term plan in place, resolve the immediate issues, get started, and follow an approach that enables you to do short- and intermediate-term planning while completing the tasks at hand.

Share assumptions with stakeholders. Too often administrators and technologists make distance delivery decisions without the informed participation
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