Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Module 1: The Evolving Field of Online Education

Online learning has been growing at an increasing rate over the past several years.  Students of all ages from little ones beginning kindergarten to adults pursuing advanced degrees have the option to take classes and programs online. With the growth of online learning, professionals in the field face challenges to providing a quality education.

Simonson (2000) stresses the importance of equivalency of learning online.  Students will not have the same learning experience as they do online as they would if they were taking classes in a traditional stone and mortar setting, however they can have a “different but equivalent learning experience.”  Four steps are outlined by Simonson to achieve equivalency which include assessing technology to be used, defining learning objectives and learning experiences along with preparing the learning experience to be delivered online (Simonson, 2000). 

Huett, Moller, Foshay and Coleman (2008) write about how the field of instructional design and online learning needs to evolve in the training, higher education and K-12 education divisions.  The focus needs to be on sound instructional design and practices.Huett, Moller, Foshay and Coleman feel that there are many opportunities for the field of instructional design to grow and evolve but it is at the utmost importance for professionals to commit to the task without being encumbered by theoretical or ideological differences. They emphasize how we need to reach these goals by working collaboratively and cooperatively. 
Over the past decade since I first began taking online courses, I have seen the quality of my own classes change.  The platform for instruction has improved along with the vigor of the course work.  The classroom discussions that I participate in now are of real quality whereas in the past it seemed like another hoop to jump through with no real meaning.  It is exciting for me to see the changes and to hopefully be able to help with the continuing evolution of online learning.


Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, May/June). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 1: Training and Development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75. 

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 2: Higher Education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.

Simonson, M. (2000). Making decisions: The use of electronic technology in online classes. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 84, 29–34. 


  1. What if online education were not equivalent but superior to traditional classroom in a school building industrial era education? What if we up the ante and expect not proficiency but excellence as a minimum behavioral objective? Digital literacy is becoming more important in every career choice and employers increasing seek to hire those with creativity, integrity, intrinsic motivation, problem solving skills, and critical thinking skills. How are K-20 educators preparing today's youth?

  2. Unfortunately, I think that most K-20 educators are not preparing today's youth. The youth that is growing up and demonstrating the skills necessary to excell are generally ones that are self taught. Many educators fear incorporating technology on a regular basis into the classroom and don't have the skills needed themselves to adequately prepare today's youth. Somehow we need to do more in preparing today's youth, the only question is - how?

  3. Great post! I agree with you that distance education is constantly evolving and become better as opposed to a lot of "busy" work and papers. The courses are becoming more interacting and thus creatinig a medium that is more meaningful.