My initial definition of Distance Education is organized learning through different forms of technology from an educational institute in a method that allows the learner to choose his or her own location to learn from. My understanding of DE has changed over the past few weeks in a few ways. I realize that I can add to my definition of DE to make it more accurate such as acknowledging that the student works at his or her own time and not just from his or her location. Through videos, discussions and reading, I learned about the inception of DE possibly as early back as the New Testament times of the Bible with Paul. I also learned about the first form of DE being correspondences. I also learned the original idea of DE was to help the underprivileged in a humanitarian effort. I have actually wondered if about other organizations that used DE like the military and how far back in history they began to use it. Everything I have read seems to be more about the public.
I am think I am both a visual and auditory learner which fits in with the asynchronous approach. I enjoy working with technology like developing web sites. I find myself wanting to spend more time doing this than reading. I do however like to read and to gain knowledge. I am still new to on-line learning and would consider myself a rookie. I am still developing organizational skills and time management. I have been very prepared for this type of learning however I did underestimate the amount of time needed for this type of learning.
I did review the library guide however I did not take as much time as I could have to explore all the different tools which were offered. I found myself wanting to use internet sources more than using the UMUC Library. I have begun to use the library for journals on DE for my OMDE 603. At first, I had some difficulty but once I figured out what topics to search it became much easier. I did not realize how many journals are published concerning DE. I have come to realize that it’s difficult to find such accurate information through the regular World Wide Web. I plan to use the library as the first sources for all my future assignments.
I actually did have an “aha” moment regarding my learning experience over the last three weeks. It was one of concern and feeling a little overwhelmed because of the amount of time required for all the reading and research required. The LEO system had definitely taken some time to learn and get used to. It’s definitely been fast paced but things are starting to slow down more. It’s like a football player starting to know the play book well enough that he does not have to think as much and can just react.
The most interesting topic that I have learned about over the last two weeks was the establishment of “Open University” in the United Kingdom and its systems approach to learning (Moore & Kearsley, 2012, p. 33). The idea of making education open and available to everyone is quite amazing. The history of UK Open University becoming a mega university and being a model of influence for other Open Universities across the world is compelling. The least interesting topic I learned about was Andragogy and its relevance in DE.
I don’t think I had an “a-ha” moment learning about this time period of DE, however this was the period of my life that I graduated high school. It certainly brought back some reflection and allowed me to relate better to what I have been studying thus far. I took a SAT class that was delivered by live video conference which is part of the synchronous model of learning. It had both advantages and disadvantages. It was an advantage because it was available and I was being taught by an expert in their field of study. It also had its disadvantages too. There were times when there were hardware issues and class had to be cancelled. Also, it was a direct approach to instruction and therefore I found very boring and unchallenging.
After completing my assignment on Open Universities, I think the UK Open University’s mission to be “open to people, places, methods and ideas” is a great perspective on DE (The Open University, 2015). It’s simple, it’s elegant and broad enough to cover all pedagogies of DE. I agree with OU’s view of the importance of education and that everyone and anyone can have free access to it through the Open Educational Resources. There has been times in our history that education was only for the aristocrats which stymied education and was very discriminating to the lower class.
Tony Bates is a scholar in the DE field of study and provided a very educational (2011, November) video on his work with the “Open University” and media used during that period of time. His video was relevant to me concerning DE because the Open University concept closely aligns to my personal pedagogy of DE being “open”.
I do believe the course objectives have been fulfilled through the reading and writing assignments. The writing assignments and forum discussions helped build research skills and the use of higher cognitive skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The social media objectives were met through the web 2.0 activities such as the creation and design of the e-portfolios and blogs. We also watched a few videos to supplement the reading materials. The grid assignment was a good introduction for collaborative learning.
Bates, A. W. (2011, November). The second wave of distance education and history of the Open University United Kingdom [Online video]. Available from http://vimeo.com/32292234
Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance Education: A systematic view of online learning (3 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
The Open University. (2015). http://www.open.ac.uk/
ave to think as much and can just react.
It’s been like a roller coaster ride in the last two weeks as I have read and studied printed content on wave three of DE. I also took part in some writing discussions about wave three of DE with my peers and received guidance from my instructors. As I took part in this, I also had some family difficulties with my grandmother who is in poor health and eventually would go through a life or death surgery. Surprisingly through all this, I did have that “a-ha” moment. It was when I read Terry Anderson’s articles on Equivalency of Interaction Theory (Anderson, 2003). His theory is simple, flexible and straight forward in thinking and reasoning. I read about some of the other models such as Connectivism and the Community of Inquiry. I found them somewhat limited and confusing. Through his readings, I find Mr. Anderson very open minded concerning the various approaches to DE. I also enjoyed his up-beat and refreshing points of view on all different ways we can learn. I have a teaching degree and I can easily see myself designing courses and instruction based on his model.
My original definition of DE was “Distance Education can be approached as organized learning through different forms of technology from an educational institute in a method that allows the user to choose his or her own location to learn from.” As I have continued to learn about distance learning, I am beginning to realize just how tricky the definition can really be! In connectivism and constructivism, learning may not be entirely organized especially if it’s through scaffolding and self-created as opposed to scripted and designed from the ground up (Anderson and Dron, 2011). There is also a great deal of emphasis on presence and interactions concerning collaboration and the community (Garrison, 2009). With this in mind, DE can be facilitated through others and not just from the instructor of the educational institute. I would also change my original definition to “time and location to learn from.” I believe I left out the word “time” in my previous definition because my current education courses are paced regarding my assignments and discussions due dates compared to free pacing (Holmberg, 2005).
There is a great deal of thinking regarding how I can integrate what I have learned in DE into my current required staff trainings. My trainings are mostly direct instruction and group discussions. There are also some online flash trainings through the LMS called Elogiclearning. I believe all these trainings could be better with more technology integrated into them to improve motivation and promote higher learning. I have just recently signed up with MoodleCloud which is a free LMS. I intend to experiment with this from both a teachers’ and instructors’ standpoint to possibly help improve my staff trainings.
Anderson, T. (2003). Getting the mix right again: An updated and theoretical rationale for interaction. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 4 (2). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/149/230
Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. International Review of Research in Online and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 12(3), 80-97. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/890
Garrison, R. (2009). Implications of online learning for the conceptual development and practice of distance education. Journal of Distance Education, 23(2), 93-104. Retrieved from http://www.jofde.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/471/889
Holmberg, B. (2005). The evolution, principles, and practices of distance education. Oldenburg, Germany: BIS-Verlag der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg. Available fromhttp://www.box.com/shared/y97qyc7m0t
Most of my learning was through assigned readings, discussions, research and writing assignments. These formats of learning helped me reflect on what I know about the subject material and about myself. It felt like over the last few weeks my primary focus of learning was on different learning theories and how they can be specifically utilized in learning. These theories would include constructivism, connectivisim, andragogy and heutagogy. It was also interesting to learn that there does not appear to be a set model being used in our education system today, however DE is deeply rooted in learner autonomy. It’s not just about what the student learns but the process of how the learning is being done. It’s that process that shapes us into who we are and where we want to go to become more competent and capable human beings in this world.
I can truly say that I don’t want to learn by memorizing material only and then regurgitate it through taking some test. Of course the knowledge base is important but I want to learn more. I want to know how to apply and use this knowledge to better my life and to better others if possible. I want to acquire skills to give me abilities to do so. I believe all the learning theories have their place in DE however heutagogy principles seem to be more of a natural fit in promoting learner autonomy. Heutagogy is more focused on how we learn as human beings and how to harness that information to stimulate deeper learning which will help guide us on a path of lifelong learning.
What I have also learned about these different approaches to learning is that some apply better than others depending on circumstances such as age and maturity especially regarding children. I have been working with children for almost 20 years. Children need structure and direction. I don’t think it would be a good idea to apply the heutagogy approach to teenagers in a public school system in big cities like Philadelphia. Heutagogy principles are for those more mature adults and those with those life experiences which goes hand in hand with DE. I am not sure I agree with every aspect of heutagogy but I think it certainly can be applied and should be applied in DE.
I also wanted to share what I have learned and my thoughts in regards to collaborative learning in DE. I am still not very comfortable working in collaborative projects. I have done a few activities with my fellow peers and enjoyed it at times. For me this type of learning has been either boom or bust. Either this type of learning works very well or it does not work at all. If I want to work in collaboration with others then I want to do it freely and be able to choose who I want to work with. I am depending on those people and they are depending on me. It should be a very natural process because there is a high amount of organization and communication needed in collaborative learning projects. I found that when I was working on an activity, I wanted to reach out to my peers to ask them questions and hear their thoughts however that was not possible because they all have their own lives to live in their own pace of working. I think at least for me, I would rather work collaboratively in a synchronous environment than asynchronous.
I have had a wonderful experience in the learning process in the OMDE 601 course. I found it very challenging at times as well as motivational. The instructors were very professional and I felt they were very supportive in my journey in DE. When I was in undergraduate school completing my certification in teaching social studies, the thought of getting a master’s degree in distance education never crossed my mind. I was purely enjoying the learning of history. I envisioned someday teaching history at a university but I have traveled a lot of different paths along the way and I am not sure if this is still my vision. I will say that if I was not sure about a career in DE I am now. I have really enjoyed learning the content and I look forward to someday applying what I have learned. I have actually started to apply some things right now. As a teacher or counselor, helping others learn is the ultimate prize however I would love to apply DE in teaching history as well.
I believe I accomplished my deepest learning through reflection. I was able to reflect mostly through my assigned readings and the written assignments that required research. Not only did I learn about the subject matter but about myself as well. I learned better organization skills and have become more confident as a student. The idea of starting off with nothing, gathering a wide variety of material and putting it all together to make something has always been very fulfilling to me. I started off with a generic template with WordPress and now I have created a fun E-Portfolio which is about my DE learning journey. I had never worked with WordPress so I definitely learned something new. I have mostly worked with another CMS called Joomla. I have enjoyed working with WordPress. I find it less complex then Joomla, however Joomla is more versatile in being able to do certain things. Now I must decide if I want to keep working with Joomla or switch over entirely to WordPress.
I named this reflection “Reflection inside-out” because I have really looked outward into how I can and have already applied what I have learned to my everyday life. It’s helped me become more motivated in regards to doing my job and helping others with theirs. I have been speaking with my administration about some training ideas that may possibly be implemented in the future. I feel better about myself because for almost 15 years I was not very active in my education and felt somewhat stagnant. I am now learning once more and ready to do bigger and better things in life. I can also say that this educational pursuit has not been all “cookies and cream.” It has created a great deal of stress and anxiety at times because of the fine line I have to balance between education, my personal life and career. I definitely think it is worth it though and am looking forward to the continued challenges it’s going to bring.