In the next decade and beyond distance education will continue to grow in popularity among learners, and as a means of educating in areas of subject matter that seem impossible today. Advances in technology will play a role in this growth, but more people will need to accept distance learning as a viable way to learn for it to continue.
When I started this master’s degree program I had a limited view of the fields where instructional design would be used. It did not take me long to realize that it is not just used in education but in any area where people learn. I think that many segments of the public today see distance learning the way I saw instructional design. Many young people already communicate with each other almost entirely through social media and other technology, these learners have full confidence in it. The acceptance of social media as a way of communicating with people from all over the world, it gives potential distance learners awareness of how information can be exchanged online (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014).
An instructional designer can affect perceptions of distance learning by designing learning experiences that are effective in helping learners achieve the objectives of the course (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). Learners’ who have positive experiences and attain the desired outcomes from distance learning are likely to be a proponent of it in the future (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014). In order for instructional designers to meet the needs and expectations of learners they must keep up with, and seek out new learning tools. This will be especially important as new content areas shift to distance learning, innovative instructional designers will be valuable resources for organizations who are making these changes.
I plan to eventually be an innovative instructional designer, I lack experience now but through the use of online resources and working with experienced I.D.s there are many ways to stay current in the field. My experience as a Walden student has been positive and I have recommended it to friends and acquaintances. I was a skeptic of distance learning not long ago, but now I know I just needed to experience it, programs like Walden can provide high value depending on what is important to the student (Gambescia & Paolucci, 2009). When promoting improvements to distance learning I will rely on my own experience as a student and my expertise as an instructional designer. I think that web tools will continue to be more specialized toward specific content, by demonstrating how these tools improve understanding, organizations and learners are more likely to embrace distance learning.
When I think about how distance learning has changed and grown just in the last ten years, I expect that to continue. More technology and the perceived need by many for a convenient, flexible way of receiving education will demand it.
Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html
Laureate Education, Inc. (2014). The Future of Distance Education [Video Webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4775279_1%26url%3D
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.