Archive for April, 2013

The Future of Instructional Design

“Distance education and training result from the technological separation of teacher and learner which frees the student from the necessity of traveling to “a fixed place, at a fixed time, to meet a fixed person, in order to be trained” (Valentine, 2002). The advantages of distance learning are plentiful including: flexibility, saving time and money for both student and administration, studying at your own pace, convenience and access to fellow students and administration (Abraham, 2012). While the advantages are plentiful, there is one aspect of distance education that is a concern for distance learners which is the lack of interaction between students and instructors. Research shows one of the leading reasons for why students fail to complete online courses is “isolation-a feeling or belief that they are working alone without the help of their instructor or classmates” (Freeman, 2001). This is the area where I see improvement in distance education in the future. Image

The beginning of this Distance Learning course taught students how distance education has evolved from its earliest days up to the present where it was noted in 2010 that “77% of universities already offer online courses” (LaMartina, 2012). I’m sure that number is even greater today and will continue to grow in the future. Dr. George Siemens noted one reason for growing acceptance of distance education is the “growing acceptance of technology and practical experience with new tools” (Laureate Education, 2009). Technology such as course management systems offering online discussions, blogs, chats and web conferencing give students more opportunity to interact with fellow classmates and their instructor to develop a greater sense of understanding and community. Some of the first distance education concepts were that of correspondence courses where students were allowed to complete coursework from anywhere, anytime, however the student was solely responsible for their progress and often it would take weeks to receive feedback of their work. Today, students can receive much quicker feedback of their views through discussion forums and their grades through an online gradebook. Instructors can hold online lectures through the use of web conferencing and can be available for one-on-one and group meetings through Skype. These technological tools will continue to develop and new ones will be created to make the world a smaller place. This advance in technology will grow in the corporate environment as well allowing businesses to interact globally. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a study in which experts and stakeholders were asked how they see instruction in 2020. 60% of the respondents agreed that “There will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources” (Anderson, Boyles, & Rainie, 2012). Charlie Firestone, executive director of the Communications and Society program at the Aspen Institute stated his views on changing technology that “will allow for more individualized, passion-based learning by the student, greater access to master teaching, and more opportunities for students to connect to others—mentors, peers, sources—for enhanced learning experiences” (Anderson, Boyles, & Rainie, 2012). As technology advances so will the need for more future online courses. The difference between today’s courses and those in 10-20 years will be the tools that will be provided to improve interactivity amongst students and professionals increasing the global community.

As I reflect on what I have learned through this Distance Education course, I think of the title of the degree program Instructional Design and Technology. Our goals are to learn and apply the concepts of good Instructional Design along with learning current technology to display these concepts. “The swift, unforeseen, unexpected and unbelievable achievements of information and communication technologies will require the design of new formats of learning and teaching and [will cause] powerful and far-reaching structural changes of the learning-teaching process” (Peters, 2002, p. 20). It is the responsibility of the instructional designer to incorporate both design concepts and technology in order to meet job requirements such as “The Specialist will apply and modify various instructional design models and components to develop high quality teaching and learning environments” (Walden University, 2013). When we learn and are able to display these concepts in a “quality teaching and learning environment”, we will then be able to change social perceptions that may still see online education as inadequate to face-to-face training. My ambition is to work diligently to improve distance education so that it will fit into the equivalency theory providing the same learning outcomes from distance education as of the brick and mortar classroom.


Some of us are K-12 educators, some work in the corporate aspect; some of us are teachers and trainers active in the classroom or training department, while others may focus more on development. Whatever our primary role, I can assure you that we all wear many hats. We are responsible for knowing our audience, designing materials to engage the audience, and developing and delivering training to meet desired objectives In order to accomplish my own goals, I strive to learn current trends in order to make myself appealing to the job market. However, my desire to work in the instructional design field goes much deeper than a job itself. My desire is to do something that I thoroughly enjoy and share my work with others to make a positive change. This is how I will be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education


Abraham, N. (2012, June 26). Advantages & disadvantages of distance learning. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from

Anderson, J. Q., Boyles, J. L., & Rainie, L. (2012, July 27). The future impact of the Internet on higher education:. Elon University School of Communication, Pew Research Center.

Freeman, J. (2001). Using Discussions in Online Courses: The Importance of Interactivity.

LaMartina, D. (2012, August 10). The Future of Distance Learning: Why 77% of Universities Already Offer Online Courses. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). The Future of Distance Education. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD.

Peters, O. (2002). Distance education in transition: New trends and challenges. Bibliotheks and Information system der Universitat Oldenburg, 20.

Valentine, D. (2002). Distance learning: promises, problems and possibilities. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 5(3).

Walden University. (2013, April 23). Week 8 Reflection: Food for Thought.

Hybrid Instruction for Adult Learners

Online Focus
Click on the link above to access a newsletter for corporate trainers who may be interested in converting their current training program to a hybrid learning environment. Hope you enjoy!

Open Courseware


Open-source course management systems are free educational software that are maintained by users who implement, even modify, and ultimately support their system to meet local, specific needs” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, p. 162). I was unaware that open source courseware existed until this week, and found it to be a fascinating look into what is in store for education technologically. I chose to take a look at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s open courseware at “MIT OpenCourseWare™ (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012).

The first thing I did was take a look around the site and I got a feel for how it is used. Their About page has startling statistics including “materials from 2150 courses” and “125 million visitors” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Who knew that that many people around the world knew about the knowledge that was available with a simple online search? The History page notes that in 2002, the “pilot version goes online with 50 courses” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Where have I been? I had no idea. So what does the MIT Open CourseWare™ have to offer? Basically, anyone including students, educators, businesspeople, and self-learners around the world can access many of the MIT courses offered to students earning their degrees. There is no degree or certification attached to the use of the open courseware only the genuine desire to learn.

I chose the course entitled “Technologies for Creative Learning” in the Training and Education topic. I chose this course because it is somewhat relevant to my Instructional Design degree program. The course “includes activities with new educational technologies, reflections on learning experiences, and discussion of strategies and principles underlying the design of new tools and activities” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Tools on the courseware site include: course home, syllabus, readings, assignments, projects, related resources, and download course materials, and the CMS is designed similar to the Walden courses designed through BlackBoard ™. It is very easy to find topics and choose a course as well as navigate through the system; therefore I would determine that quite a bit of time was used in planning in order to design the course making it easily accessible to a wide range of learners.

This week’s resources offer suggestions for faculty to prepare for distance learning including:

  • Traditional classroom curriculum may need to be changed to meet the needs of students including “visual presentations, engaged learners, and careful timing of presentations of information
  • Plan activities that encourage interactivity at all sites
  • Plan activities that allow for student group work
  • Be prepared in the event technical problems occur” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012).

MIT OpenCourseWare™ meets many of these requirements. The syllabus clearly states expectations regarding participation, projects, assignments, and grading. Students are given the opportunity to work as facilitators; two or three students are selected each week and are encouraged to work closely with facilitators to ensure success. This allows students to share their views and experience and gives other students the opportunity to comment and ask questions. Students become a part of their learning. I also found very handy the Technology FAQ for those not quite so technologically savvy. These are a few of the ways designers have made the MIT OpenCourseWare™site attractive and easy to use.

In addition to students participating as facilitators in the online classroom, seven activities are given as practice in various areas of the curriculum. Scratch™ is the technology used throughout the course which was created by the MIT Media Lab. Scratch™ is defined as a “programming language learning environment enabling beginners to get results without having to learn syntactically correct writing first” (Lifelong Kindergarten Group). You can learn more about Scratch™ at There is also a final project that is to be completed throughout the course and it is encouraged for students to work in groups and use each other for testing.

Time™ Magazine listed MIT OpenCourseWare as one of the top 50 websites of 2010 stating that the site “offers many class materials for free, with lecture notes, class assignments, tests and even the audio and video of professors’ lectures” (TIME Staff, 2010).I find this site to be thoughtfully designed and easy to use. It is amazing what technology has done to make our world a smaller place, and I am sure that this educational opportunity will continue to grow and prosper.


Blackboard, Inc. (2013). About Bb. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from

Johnson, D. B. (2012, March 2). Open CourseWare-Not a threat for online schools. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from

Lifelong Kindergarten Group. (n.d.). Featured Projects. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2012). About OCW. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

TIME Staff. (2010, August 25). 50 Best Websites 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from,28804,2012721_2012929_2012925,00.html

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