1. Explain the relationship between distance learning and online learning.
Online learning is a form of distance learning. Other examples of distance learning have included the use of postal mail, radio, or television as the medium by which lessons were disseminated to students. Before the internet, students would communicate back to the instructor via postal mail.
2. Discuss the main difference between distance learning and online learning.
The main difference between distance learning and online learning is the ability for students to transfer information back to the instructor more quickly than the traditional postal means of transmittal. This communication efficiency has also allowed the transmission of information to other students as well, thus opening up new learning possibilities from other distance learners.
3. List the three types of interaction proposed by Moore (1989) and explain each type of interaction in your own words.
A) Learner – Content Interaction
- I think of this as the way in which the learner engages with the materials and course content (Learner -> Content) and, if the content is not static, the way that the content adapts itself to the learner (Content -> Learner). I think this latter area has great potential, and the idea of adaptive content sparks my interest. I aspire to design learning programs that recognize when a student requires more review before tackling more advanced topics, or that can more fully engage an advanced student by not forcing him or her to slog through basic concepts that are already well understood (unless they want the review).
B) Learner – Instructor Interaction
- I think of this as the communication of concepts from the teacher to the class (Instructor -> Learner), and the feedback, questions, and evaluations from the class to the teacher (Learner -> Instructor). Here, I get excited about the idea of a feedback opportunity for each lesson back to the instructor. “Was this lesson effective? (rate 1 -5 stars)” On the flip side, I think this is where most adaptive education occurs – where the human teacher recognizes the different levels of mastery in different students, and can make adjustments accordingly – saving one from boredom and the other from despair.
C) Learner – Learner Interaction
- Ah, social networking. We used to get in trouble for talking in class. Now, we get graded on it! I think of this as the “study group” idea – students focused on the topic, reviewing material and sharing new insights or additional sources of information. Learner to learner interaction has to go beyond the “hey, great post!” correspondence. If one learner has expertise in an area that can supplement or compliment the formal lessons, then you can obtain value from receiving more information. However, I think the real value here is in the interaction itself – the discussion of topics, the questioning and challenging of others, and the process of being challenged and standing up for what you wrote, or seeing another perspective and changing your point of view.
4. Discuss some of the differences between the early days of online learning and today. Then make some predictions about the future of elearning. Please include at least one good article/website/citation for this item.
So, what are my predictions? I recently read a book called Brain Rules (well, listened to it twice, via Audible), and I believe the future will bring a revolutionary intersection between neuroscience and learning. Here’s a link to Leaps & Bounds for Teachers wherein John Medina is interviewed and speaks on the topic of intersecting brain science with education.
There is also a lot of information at John’s site: http://www.brainrules.net/.
I think the revolution will consist of several things:
- e-Learning will be designed to better fit with what neuroscience research tells us about the way the human brain processes information (10 minute chunks of information, concepts repeated within 30 seconds during the original presentation of the information, designed to be repeated multiple times and over several sleep cycles, etc.)
- e-Learning will be encouraged to be supplemented by engaging other senses during learning – smells, and tastes – reinforcing the imprint of the memory being performed by the images, text, and audio
- e-Learning interactions will expand their design to work with haptic interfaces to engage the sense of touch, further reinforcing the memory of the learned content
- e-Learning will be adaptive to the learner and have the facility to expand or contract the material based on the demonstrated understanding of the content being presented (here’s a link to an article that explores one aspect of this idea.)
I also see a future where learning profiles are developed for each individual as he or she progresses through multiple education programs throughout their life – like a global LMS. With intelligent and adaptive e-learning that communicates with such a profile, new e-learning courses could immediately adapt to the learning style or challenges of the individual without each course having to run its own heuristics.