Distance education has changed over the last two decades faster than it has changed over the last hundred years. What began as a way to educate people who did not have access to traditional education, has shifted to a way to educate a multitude of people. Today, nearly seven million people are taking at least one online course (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Additionally, many public schools are implementing virtual public schools. This shift in education is similar to the shift from mail via the post office to e-mail for regular communication.
As time progresses, distance education will find its place among the other available forms of education. Currently, 69.1% of university educational leaders feel that online education is part of their long-term strategy (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Given this fact, it is likely that distance education will continue to grow over the next five to ten years. We will likely see more virtual universities and global enrollment. I also expect high school students to take at least one distance learning course, as this is the vision of my current school district. Although this growth will continue to skyrocket over the next ten years, I believe it will begin to plateau after approximately fifteen years. Distance education will find its place alongside traditional education.
Throughout this process, universities and virtual public schools are looking for effective instructional designers. I can fill this role to effect positive change. Currently many of my peers work for universities as instructors. They perform their duties around their current teaching assignments to the best of their abilities with little understanding of the change this environment requires. As an instructional designer, I can complete a task analysis before the project to determine the actual needs (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012). Therefore, a course that I create will focus on the true learning need, not simply fulfill the desires of an administrator.
As I pursue this endeavor, I will continue to create high quality professional development for the instructors of distance education courses. In these courses, it is important that there are meaningful connections between the instructor and the students (Simonson, et. al, 2012). In order to facilitate this, we must create professional development that teaches instructors how to appropriately interact with students to support learning. While completing my Master’s degree courses, I have had examples of both good and bad professors. Armed with this knowledge and my background creating courses in Blackboard and Moodle, I believe that I can positively influence distance education within my district and hopefully on a national level.
As education continues to change with technology, so shall I. It is important to use technology to educate students, not chose the technology tool and then the educational goals (Simonson, et. al, 2012). This is my role in distance education. I will remind everyone that education is the goal, not technology. In this way, I will take my place among the instructional designers who shape distance education over the next twenty years.
Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2013). Changing course: Ten years of tracking online education in the United States. Retrieved from Sloan Consortium website:http://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/changingcourse.pdf
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M. & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education. Boston: MA. Pearson.