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Distance Education Essay

993 words - 4 pages

One of the most exciting new trends in education is the use of distance learning. Many universities and corporations have ventured into it, and, in fact, some universities are devoted exclusively to providing an entire curriculum and degree through distance learning. Although the term "distance education" is of relative recent coinage, the concept of learning at a distance is not new at all. For example, correspondence course first appeared in Germany, England, and in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. These courses were intended to provide vocational training to serve the demands of growing industrial economies, but the idea of learning on one's own proved so attractive that ...view middle of the document...

The idea is supported by a somewhat similar model by Miller and King (2003), who have included technology, the learner, the instructor, the pedagogy and the organization in their paper. Broadly speaking, the challenges for distance education are technological and social. The technological issues require researchers from education and information technology field to work together, some of these issues have been partly solved while others remain open. There were similar suggestions by many researchers that faculty and learners both must gain technological training, there should be institutional support for learners and also that distance education may change institutional culture. Distance education requires to change a number of aspect of teaching, including course content, teaching roles and methods, assessment strategies, interaction, and communication; teaching online requires different skills and pedagogies from those needed in the traditional, face-to-face environment. The most crucial is the change in the teaching methodology, assessment techniques and examinations.The sociological challenges on the other hand are more difficult to solve than technological issues. The motivation of the students is one of the key factors that determine the success of a distance learning program (Kim and Shih, 2003). Education received solely by distance learning may put a learner at disadvantage, as social behavior is different in a virtual environment. There is a lot of frustration due to technological obstacles and absence of social interaction. One of the concerns commonly voiced about distance education is the lack of human contact and feelings of isolation (Hara & Kling, 2000).With the growth and use of distance education, it becomes necessary that some guiding principles for the use of this technology emerge (Miller and King, 2003). With the same idea in mind, researchers have included best practices or recommendations in their papers. Almost everyone agrees that the most important is the need to develop a rich level of personal interchange between professor and student and students themselves. There should be...

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