Distance Education

Up until now I have been confused and causing confusion by using the improper terminology. I often ask the question to a small audience, do you like your coffee regular? (assuming that they do indeed drink coffee). The definition of coffee regular takes on different meanings in different parts of the country. Texas regular is “black” and New York regular is “cream and sugar”.

Taking the idea of an operational definition into the world of distance education. I recently read a really good definition for distance education. I have been calling it e-learning and distance learning for the longest time. Moore and Kearsley, in their book Distance Education: A systems view of online learning, provide a good operational definition.

Distance Education is teaching and planned learning in which teaching normally occurs in a place different than learning, requiring communication through technologies as well as special institutional organization.

This definition is rather profound for it establishes a foundation to bring further clarification and detail. It involves both the teacher and the student. It established the norm of being in two physically different locations for the student and teacher. Technology is a requirement for communication – that is not optional. Institutional organization eludes to the “system” that is needed. The system will include what will be taught, the best messaging and the appropriate balance of media and technology that will be used.

In the late 90’s, I was involved in creating distance learning solutions. The world of technology and media has matured significantly and now sets the stage for distance education. A lot can be written on the development of media. In the early days of the World Wide Web, I remember spending hours and hours compressing digital video to get 15 minutes of bandwidth friendly content. Today, there is instant transfer from your digital camera to YouTube and within a few minutes your video is being viewed around the world. That is just one component of the system,

It is a “Brave New World of Distance Education”

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