Distance education study through remote education
Ebony Weber & Clinton Elliott
With millions of students across the world involved in distance education, it is essential that the leaders and administrators of such programs receive adequate training for their responsibilities. Graduate programs in which students can explicitly study distance education will help meet this critical need and advance distance education theory and research. Graduates of these distance education master’s and doctoral programs are in demand and are being successfully placed in the workforce better prepared for the challenging complexities inherent in distance education.
Even though the growth of distance education graduate programs has not kept pace with the explosive growth of the distance education industry, there is evidence that more and more representation and integration of the distance education discipline is finding its way into formal academe. Only a few mainstream distance education graduate programs exist, having come into existence during the past decade. As noted earlier, 74 unique institutions of higher learning in the U.S. and Canada sponsored research on a distance education topic in the year 2003 alone.
The authors believe that distance education scholars can and should do more to promote the study and discipline of distance education within their institutions’ graduate programs. Many educational programs across the continent are already positioned with existing graduate programs to formally introduce a distance education course or two within their curricular scope. The authors invite more institutions and colleges to consider adopting distance education emphases, concentrations, minors, and specializations in content-related graduate programs. Academe needs to step up and help educate a distance education workforce, while at the same time make an increasing contribution to the theory and discipline of distance education so as to better inform distance education practice.
Scalable Beta Testing Online Personnel Development
This beta test was conducted as part of the activities carried out by a multi-state planning project to develop guidelines for implementation of large-scale online staff development programs. The beta test was designed to evaluate the features of an online staff development model and to provide participants in the planning project a common experience in understanding online staff development. Fifty-one educators, in several professional roles, from nine states participated in a series of focus groups and surveys to develop recommendations on implementation.
Professional on-line development in support of online teaching
The study explored the experiences of academics undertaking a professional development (PD) program delivered partly online. University teaching staff are in a unique position to experience and understand the consequences of learning online as part of their PD requirements and this study generated insights into how this experience is fed back into professional practice. In addition, this study reports on the motivations of academic staff interested in elearning as a delivery method and their beliefs about its place in the higher education system. Through examining the stories of staff experiences of online PD, a number of issues are highlighted that could inform development of future online PD courses, particularly those aimed at supporting development of staff competency in online teaching. In particular, issues of access, support for interactivity, and sharing of best practice are raised.
Online discussion: case study combining traditional strategies and technology
The lessons learned were two-fold. First, students understood the complexities of exclusive electronic and online communications in a group context. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, students discovered that traditional methods of debate are complicated when the constructs are originally designed for a completely separate communication method. The online debate was effective because it produced spirited and valid arguments, but inefficient in its use of time. This aspect can certainly translate into the academic and instructional design of distance learning and online course design. As instructional designers develop online courses, they must understand the complexities of online environments when incorporating traditional instruction. Instructional designers should consider the attributes of technology and media in the context of synchronous and asynchronous environments. Further scientific investigation is needed to explain the main effects of the strengths and weaknesses of online debates. Perhaps this case provides a basis for further study.
Advice for students of today’s online college
Writing papers can be a positive educational experience for online students who take the time to design and successfully implement a strategic writing plan. Students can become better writers through consistent self-evaluation of their work and application of relevant instructor suggestions. Students are more excited and motivated to write when they learn how to effectively share their passion and expertise with others.
“Whatever Wells writes is not only alive, but kicking.”
Henry James referring to H.G. Wells