Over the past decade, distance learning has grown in popularity, access, and impact (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). The improvements in and access to technology; education of instructional designers and instructors; and acceptance and promotion of distance learning by educational institutions have brought greater visibility to the world of distance learning than at any other time in history. As society continues to become more technologically advanced, and institutions (educational and business) continue to embraces distance learning as a cheaper, equally if not more effective method of learning, perceptions of distance learning will continue to grow in positivity.
As an aspiring instructional designer, I have an influential role in improving the perception of distance learning due to my ability to create distance learning courses that are effective (both in educational outcomes and cost) and maintain an equivalent (if not greater) experience than their face-to-face counterpart (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). Using a strong foundation of theory, mixing principles of learning and design, and utilizing appropriate technologies (Laureate Education, n.d.), I can help to maintain and improve the perception that distance learning courses can be just as effective as face-to-face experiences. The role of the instructional designer, in both education and business, is to maintain the integrity and discipline of the profession by adhering to ethical, theoretical, and pedagogical standards of design, development and delivery.
According to Moller, Foshay, and Huett, “Distance learning is rapidly becoming a popular choice for continuing professional education, mid-career degree programs, and lifelong learning of all kinds” (2008, p. 66) and as society continues to embrace technology this inclination toward distance learning will only increase as well. As an instructional designer, I have the ability to embrace and be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance learning by always conducting new research, whether it is theory or technology, and ensuring that my deliverables are of the highest standard.
Working for an education institution that specializes in online learning, I know first-hand the impact that distance learning can have in the life of an atypical student. In the future, I want to embrace what I have learned in this class and apply it to my practice and deliver exceptional experiences for my learners. I’ve had the unique ability to explore theories and practices of distance learning; create an entire distance learning module using a course management system; and analyze how to effectively facilitate distance learning courses while supporting the diverse and unique needs of the learners. Although instructional design lends itself to both in person and distance learning experiences, the exponential growth of distance learning in the near future that will become integrated in all learning environments (Laureate Education, n.d.) will certainly present an opportunity for instructional designers to have a drastic impact on the improvement and societal perception of distance learning.
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Distance education: The next generation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Theory and distance learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008b). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education).TechTrends, 52(4), 66-70
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Information Age Publishing, NC.