It’s called distance learning, online learning, and even technology-mediated education. But what is distance learning really? How do you define it? Well, depending on your experience you probably have your own idea of what it is, but I think your notion of what online learning is and what it can do in education will change drastically after this course. Right now we can settle on a simple definition of online learning that describes it as the integration of technology into the process of teaching and learning. But as the weeks go on I will ask you to describe your idea of online and see how much it changes over time.
Now before we go any further into the relevance and direction of distance education, let’s look at its beginnings. When do you think distance learning began? In the 1990s with the Web? In the 1960s with satellite transmission? Or earlier? How much earlier?
Why is technology in the classroom becoming such a significant topic? It’s a growing marketplace for technology and learning. A recent Sloan C study said there were one million online learners in the K-12 space by 2007. As reported in the Globe recently the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) predicts there will be up to 18 million students (secondary and higher ed) studying online by 2013. And while that means a lot of opportunity for students to learn using technology, it also means a lot of opportunity for the people who teach those students.