Monthly Archives: September 2014

Distance Learning Technology Tools

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

In these 3 weeks of our course on distance learning, I have had the opportunity to come across different resources about distance learning and different concepts involved. This week in discussing the use of distance learning technologies, we have learned about CMS’s ( course management systems) or LMS’s (learning management systems). These systems offer tools that allow educational resource management that includes administrative functions, assessments, and grading. There are the Web 2.0 applications that now provide the instructor and learner access to more technological tools to provide a more useful toolbox of web resources to connect the learner with their educational needs.

Focusing on the concept of the Equivalency Theory, it is said that this is the direction of distance learning. Making a virtual classroom as effective as the traditional classroom.

The impact of new telecommunications technologies on distance education is far-reaching. Real-time television systems, such as the Iowa Communications Network (Simonson and Schlosser 1995), permit learners and instructors to see and be seen, and be heard, in almost the same way as in the local classroom. Keegan (1995) suggested that electronically linking instructor and students at various locations creates a virtual classroom” (Simonson, Schlosser, Hanson, 1999).

The use of these technological tools have moved beyond the classrooms of educational institutions and emerged in the corporate world. Organizations are utilizing such technologies to provide employees with training resources, including live seminars also called “ Webinars”. Companies are able to create, conduct and distribute training and resources to employees cost effectively.

Employers like educators have variety of technological tools available to fit any training or educational need like the collaborative training example below:

A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

One of the first distance learning tools that come to mind is one that I am particularly familiar with and also have found it pretty easy-to-use is the program Anymeeting.

This is a web-based software that can be accessed through a web browser. It does not require the trainer or trainee specific technological hardware or downloads in order to use it. It does require users to have internet access and ensure is up to date and compatible with the most recent version.

Learners do not have to be in the same office or geographic location to participate. With Anymeeting employees can be invited to register and view training sessions, meetings and presentations with the click of a link that can be sent via email.

The idea of appropriate application implies that learning experiences suitable to the needs of the individual learner and the learning situation should be available and that the availability of learning experiences should be proper and timely. In other words, learning experiences that are made available to either distant or local learners should allow delivery of instructional ideas that fit the expectations and facilities available to them; desktop video conferencing should not be expected of learners accessing Web-based information by modem. Similarly, collaborative learning strategies are not appropriate when an individual learner is isolated unless an equivalent, technology-based collaboration is arranged” (Simonson, Schlosser, Hanson, 1999).

Distance learning requires a skill level of communication amongst learners. Effective technological tools should allow for different forms of resources and supporting tools to be shared amongst the learners. With Anymeeting trainees are able to share screens, upload files and documents in real-time allowing each individual to collaborate on projects or simply provide information to benefit other based on the training’s. If one is unavailable a the time of a training or meeting, Anymeeting allows the host and attendees to record the training, is great for referencing later when training information in being updated.

Check out these users that have tried Anymeeting:

http://vellgroup.com/2012/01/test-drive-of-anymeeting/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek-IUglk4io&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DEk-IUglk4io&has_verified=1

What we have learned thus far is that the instructional experience itself is necessary for the learning process. We have are also witnessing the evolution of the learning experience as well as the methods and practices. Distance learning combined with today’s technologies is customizing each learning experience for educational institutions and corporation training’s. The use of tools such as this one makes telecommunications possible.

Simonson, M., Schlosser, C., & Hanson, D. (n.d.). Theory And Distance Education: A New Discussion. American Journal of Distance Education, 60-75.

Anymeeting. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.anymeeting.com/Free-Web-Conferencing-Features.aspx

7 Things You Should Know About LMS Alternatives. (2010). Retrieved from

http://www.educause.edu/

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Defining Distance Learning

Who knew that all those time during lab In science class that we watched videos or in social studies, listening to recorded books was my actual first experiences with distance learning. The growth of online distance learning (e-learning) is explosive in almost all sectors, and in many developed and developing in countries (Moller, Foshay, Huett, 2008). I can attest to that because distancing learning has afforded me educational opportunities, I am now completing a masters degree when there was a point in my life that I did not even think I would ever finish an undergraduate program.

Not only before starting this course, but before starting my first distance learning program, my personal definition has completely changed from what I thought it was. Distance learning to me meant that I would have to watch lectures online and complete assignments that were given in a syllabus. My definition was so simple. That meant to me that I would then need to prepare myself to do work I had never done before. So far in this course this week, I have learned there is much more to distance learning. I have learned that since my first program with my first online university. Our text shares that “ Distance learning is rapidly becoming a popular choice for continuing professional education, mid career degree programs, and lifelong learning of all kinds”(2008). I now understand that I have participated in distance learning long before it became popular and before the advancement technology has provided.

Although there is an academic description of what distance learning is that is explained in the video of this week’s resources, Dr. Simonson interprets distance education as “ Formal education that is institutionally based where the learning group ( teacher, students, resources) are separated by geography and sometimes time” Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.)., 2014. I believe that the definition of distance education changes based on the circumstance and use. Distance learning is performed in other avenues other than providing education to students, it also is a tool for training individuals in the workplace or to prepare them for a job. I believe distance eduction can no longer be defined by one dynamic since it offers so much opportunity in many different areas.

My definition of distance education now is that it is an alternative tool to advance education, job training and life skills, (along with aspect of the academic meaning) where the resources, instructor (if any) are separated by location and in some cases time. As technology continues to evolve, it will make for provide more access to the world. As students, teachers, employees, employers and organizations, our technological skills will evolve too. At the start of this program I did not truly know how big of a role technology played in educating individuals, and not just for school, I also did not know how much control we have over how technology impacts our livelihoods.

In all realizing that distance education has been here the whole time, I do not think we have stumbled across something new rather as it states in the text “ a simple answer to a complex problem associated with education and training (2008). Distance education is a solution to learning beyond the classroom. I agree with Dr. Simonson that traditional learning will never be replaced by distance learning but it will however be integrated with instructor- based teachings. Instructors will be able to make learning even more efficient for students, organizations will help develop employee skills to succeed in their careers. There are some that still feel that the world is not ready for this technological style of learning, but I would disagree, distance learning today and as it continues to evolve, provides us with options that were not always available. The next steps are really up to us.

 

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Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Distance education: The next generation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66-70.
Retrieve this article from the Academic Search Complete database in the Walden Library.