Term Paper: Distance Learning Is a New

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[. . .] This procedure was improved with the introduction of two additional factors (Horton, 1994 qtd in Sherry), i.e., the student's physical and mental set-ups. The physical set-up consists of the student's environment, peculiar situation and other physical or sensory circumstances. The mental set-up consists of the student's memory, associations, emotions, inferences and reasoning level, curiosity and interests. From these inputs, the student conceives his own image and combines it with previous knowledge and abilities for his own use.

The situated cognition view is derived from constructivist principles that guide the learner in constructing an internal representation of knowledge. This view maintains that both social and physical interaction combine in defining a problem and in forming the solution (Sherry). In using constructivism in a lesson, focus must shift from the traditional transmission model to a less complex, interactive and evolving one.

Desmond Keegan (Schlosser and Anderson, 1994 as qted in Sherry) advanced the distance learning theory, which artificially recreates the teaching-learning interaction and reintegrates it into the instructional process. It simulates the traditional classroom, face-to-face instruction scenario through intact and live classrooms and through a unique two-way audio-visual interaction. A Norwegian model combines mediated distance teaching with local face-to-face instruction (Rekkedal, 1994 as qted in Sherry). The distance educator or teacher has also undergone a refinement or alteration into a facilitator of learning, not just a communicator of a fixed body of information as her predecessor was. She has evolved into this through the most effective media through which she gets to meet her distance student face-to-face.

Recent systems allow a high degree of interaction between instructor and learner even if they are separated by, or the transfer of learning occurs in, isolated areas thousands of miles in between them. The student can now hear and even see his teacher and the teacher can react to the student's comments and answer his questions. More interestingly, virtual learning communities can be and are now formed wherein students and researchers throughout out world can be part of a class and contact can be established among them at any time of day or night during which to pass on or share information, observation and knowledge.

Systems - In the elementary and middle-school levels, distance learning occurs in the form of curriculum enrichment modules and telecommunication projects. Examples include De Orilla a Orilla, National Geographic Kids Network and Biomes Exchange Project. Other modules are TV-based and the teacher or instructor is the facilitator. The student is part of a collaborative group that uses manipulative equipment and performs hand-on activities (Pacific Mountain Network, 1994 as qted in Sherry).

At the secondary level, it is a locally or federally funded transfer of knowledge to small rural school districts or urban schools. In some cases, secondary school students enroll in distance learning courses to complete graduation requirements not available in their districts, or as advanced placement, as foreign-language input or as a vocational course. Still others take them because of disability, giftedness or disenfranchisement.

On the post-secondary level, distance learning is traditionally for adults. Examples are the United Kingdom's Open University, Norway's NKS and NK Distance Education organizations, the televised Japanese language program in the North Carolina State University and the federal government's star schools program for k-12 student populations (Sherry).

Design Criteria - The first consists of the entire range of customary stages of design, development, evaluation and revision. These stages involve not only the goals, needs and specific characteristics of the teacher and those of the student, but also specific content and technical requirements and constraints (Sherry).

The second is interactivity. While students argued that the accessibility of distance learning was far more important than dialogue, Millbank (1994, as qted in Sherry) showed that a combination of audio and video in corporate training resulted in a higher retention rate among trainees from 20 to 75%. Porter (1994 as qted in Sherry) further proved that the efficiency of independent learning materials was enhanced when combined with interactive communication technology and teacher mediation. According to him, interactivity extended to the connection between the student and the distance teacher, the local teacher, aides, facilitators and other students. Garrison (1990 as qted in sherry) maintained that, without connectivity, distance learning would degenerate into its prototype, the international correspondence school, wherein the student would become autonomous and isolated, procrastinate and soon stop. Effective distance learning should achieve the ideal of an authentic learning experience with is the connective-ness of the student and the instructor (Sherry).

The third is active learning, wherein the student adopts the learning goals as his own. This depends on his perception of the relevance of the medium and its message (Saettler, 1990 as qted in Sherry).

The fourth is visual imagery. Instructional TV has the peculiar power that captivates and motivates viewers, the student in particular. But caution must be taken that it does not distort or pervert the curriculum by drawing the student's attention away from the instruction and into the entertaining features of the medium. White (1987 as qted in Sherry) stressed that oversimplification and superficiality could result from a presentation of powerful images and the student should learn how to sift and reject junk information from quality information, detect sensationalisms, persuasions and realize the ways and extent that technology shaped the information it transmitted (Sherry).

And the fifth is effective communication. The designer should use images, which would produce a similar idea in the learner and within the context of the learning environment and his prior experiences. In dealing with individual differences in receiving the message, the designer had to tactically use organizers in creating appropriate context through select effective images and appropriate objects with relevant features or characteristics in transmitting the same idea to the learner (Sherry).

Methods and Strategies guided practice - a teacher needs training in instructional message design, strategies for delivering instructions on-camera, different types of presentation, mixes of activities for teacher and learner and their interaction, choice situations of relevance to the student and an assessment of the level of learning. Along with these, she needs guided and hands-on practice in developing and delivering the instruction through audio, video, graphics and text before a live audience but as a "non-threatening" situation (Sherry). This would be achievable with the use of fewer overheads and more moving video, mixing "talking heads" and videos of sites, using hands-on experiments, fusing text and graphic art, and other strategies. Site facilitators would also profit from hands-on practice with the given or appropriate equipment: evidence showed (Sherry and Morse, 1995 as qted in Sherry) that those who participated in a training program and were comfortable with the equipment also engaged their students well.

A media-based issues - Foreign language courses may suffer from the loss of visual detail video conferences because of signal compression, especially clear lip movements. This can be offset by telephone conversations with the instructor and frequent dialogue between student and instructor.

Distance education requires extensive preparation and adjusting traditional teaching strategies and methods in a new and entirely unfamiliar learning environment without visual cues and indicators (Sherry). Effective strategies (Willis, 1993 as qted in Sherry) include developing suitable methods of feedback and reinforcement, optimizing content and pacing; adapting to different learning styles; using relevant case studies and examples; concise supplementary courseware and print information; and personalizing instruction. It also involves a team, consisting of the instructor, the student and the site facilitator. The site facilitator is the on-site monitor of the teacher and who invigorates the interaction when the student wants to ask a question.

The available and various media may be a problem. Some are print-based independent study courses, electronic projects via the internet, classroom postings, audio conferences and cannot compare with live, two-way interactive TV. Media assignment is still another problem area. The teacher and the site facilitator need training in the technologies they should use (Sherry and Morse, 1995 as qtd in Sherry) as well as an analysis of the content of a learning module, the separate goals of the student, teacher and the institution in addition to the factors that lead to the successful delivery of the module.

A inquiry learning - Under this new system, the teacher or instructor is no longer the lone source and giver of the knowledge or fixed body of information but is now only the facilitator of "discovery learning" through a progressive communication between her and the learner. Despite her mastery of the subject and the technology, she still has to continue training in order to learn new teaching strategy with the technology. The Office of Technology Assessment (U.S. Congress, 1988 as qtd in Sherry) used the "Voyage of the Mimi" multimedia program, while many other inquiry learning modules were developed by the Far View Project. Problems encountered, however, include the lack of supporting data. Distance learning is a new, exciting but costly innovation that can be inefficient and a waste when it does not address or fill real needs. It was also felt that online or… [END OF PREVIEW]

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