Friday, January 9, 2015

ED 7722 - Distance Learning (week 1) #ITDML

Reflections on Distance Education in the United States: Past, Present, Future.

I love to learn.
That said, I don't enjoy eLearning... unless I want the answer to a specific question.
I started a correspondence course for writing children's books. Fail. I bought a CD course about Chaos Theory. Fail. I started a MOOC to learn more about technology coaching. Fail. I am slowly working my way through the Google Educator lessons. Did I mention SLOWLY? Unless there is a community with others I have met face-to-face, I have little motivation to gut through the courses.

Although Distance Learning sounds like a cure for the growing cost of education, drawing from my own experience, it is impractical. I work in a high school with 700 bundles of hormones. They are interested in each other. Period. If they weren't forced to sit in a classroom with their peers and an instructor working to keep them focused, they would learn very little. Honestly, unless they are personally interested in the subject matter, they don't seem to retain much anyway, except in their trade classes.* Every year, a handful of students who paid little attention to their schoolwork come back and say, "I wish I had taken school more seriously."

Maybe we created this kind of society with our "industrial" style, one-size fits all learning environment. People choose how to best navigate an environment, and our student of all learning preferences either master the process or totally shut down. 

The mention of homeschooling in the article piqued my interest. I was a public librarian in the early 1990's. Some of our "regulars" were homeschool families. Most of the children were well-read, polite, and had learned how to learn. Some started college courses at 16 because they were academically ready. This population, which has been brought up learning through an individualized plan, are better-suited for online learning than the traditionally schooled population.

Although Farhad Saba's article shows a rather pessimistic view of the evolution of distance learning, I am looking forward to looking at some strong examples and "best practices" in the field this coming semester.

*I work in a Technical High School. Students spend about 2 weeks in "academics" then 2 weeks in their trade. They get about 90 days in each.


Saba, F. Distance Education in the United States: Past, Present, Future. Educational Technology. November-December 2011. pp. 11-18.

(I just watched a YouTube video to figure out how to embed my Storify in my blog post.  It was not specific, so if you want to do it (in Blogger), copy your embed code from Storify. Look in the upper left corner of Blogger. See Compose and HTML. Click on HTML. Insert the code where you want the Storify to show up. Go back to compose and check it out!)

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