Revised…Distance Learning

August 28, 2008 at 12:25 am (Uncategorized)

After reading my classmates’ posts and our chat from Monday night, I understand how distance learning can go beyond the location of an educational experience.  I noticed many of us placed location at the top of our list for distance learning.  I must say, I did not understand this reasoning at the beginning of the discussion.  I didn’t see how distance learning could be considered distance between two people.  Obviously two people, taking the same course, have the same objectives in mind…but do they really have the same???  I must ask myself this question…are they going to approach those objectives in the same form or fashion?  Probably not…  After reading on and understanding Dr. Lowell’s reasoning, I see how the distance (and life experiences) of two different people would be considered distance learning between the two (which require bridging the gaps for those learners using different assessment tools).  This in my terms seems similar to meeting the multiple learning styles in the classroom (but still striving for the same goal).  If I am way off please let me know.  Just my mind rambling on… 


  1. Nate Lowell said,

    You’re on the right track. Or nearly so.

    The basic notion of distance education is predicated on the idea that there is some distance between teacher and learner. But if you accept that definition, then you have to ask, how far do you have to be apart?

    In a different country?
    In a different state?
    In a different town?
    In a different building?
    In a different room?
    In a different mind?

    And that’s when it should click for you. The teacher and the learner are different people. Even if they’re standing nose to nose in the same room at the same time, there is a *cognitive* distance that much be bridged. THAT is the goal of teaching. To take an idea from the teacher’s mind and make it available for the learner to use in his or her own context.

    Once you can accept that teaching is a communicative act between two minds — and since there are two, some distance is automatically a factor — then the only questions become how do we communicate across whatever distance is applicable?

    If the teacher and learners are all in the same room at the same time, then you can use one set of technologies. If they’re in the same room but at different times, you can use another. If they’re not in the same room OR at the same time then you have other tools.

    My point is that there’s really no such thing as “distance education.” It’s all just education. There *is* online delivery of educational experience, just as there’s classroom delivery. They are both education and differ only in the media selection options which make sense for those contexts.

    Thinking about assessments in a generalized context isn’t really the right notion. It’s much more basic — it’s about communication.

    And, btw, there is no credible evidence that learning styles exist. Moreover, there is no credible evidence that catering to an individual’s learning style results in more learning. We’ll be talking about these myths more as the class rolls along.

  2. dianaljackson said,

    I posted before discussing with you last night. Should have discussed with you before posting…I do see how communication is the issue. It seems to be communication needs (at different levels). After our chat I completely understand the confusion of distance learning and how it’s not about the “location.” It is based on the cognitive distance between two people (teacher/ learner).

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