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Considering your learning in this course and the presentation this week by Dr. Siemens, reflect on the current and future perceptions of distance learning in our society. Take into account the societal forces in the world, including the advocates for and skeptics of distance learning, and consider the following:

  • What do you think the perceptions of distance learning will be in the future (in 5–10 years; 10–20 years)?

Distance Learning will be a leading way for education in the future. Within the next five to ten year, there probably will not be too much of a shift, however ten to twenty years from now I would predict that most people are involved in some form of distance learning. The popularity will probably grow significantly. An article written by Chris Dede (2005) states that we (educators) need to be prepare for the “neomellennial learning styles”. This group that is growing up in the age of the internet is going to be more accepting of online learning than their predecessors.

  • How can you as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning?

The design, development, and delivery of a course are what make it successful (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). Whether it is a course taken online or in a face-to-face learning environment, it has to be planned carefully with the student’s learning needs in mind. According to Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek (2015), “well-designed courses provide students with engaging learning experiences”. I believe educators and instructional designers are crucial to the betterment of distance learning. As Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek (2015) stated, technology is a tool; a vehicle for delivery. It is the planning process that is so critical when developing an online course.

  • How will you be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education?

As an instructional designer of distance learning, I think it is very important to continually keep up with technological advances and find ways to include technology into our instructional experiences. By providing students with enriching experiences, while learning online, will be the best advocates for distance learning in the future. By giving students quality, enriching distance learning experiences will help to reduce the many misconceptions society has regarding distance education.

Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 28(1), 7–12.

Siemens, G. (n.d.). The Future of Distance Education. Laureate Education, Inc.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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Converting to a Distance Learning Format

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

The training manager in this week’s scenario is frustrated with the quality of communication in the face-to face training sessions and wants to try something new. The Trainer plans to convert all of the current training modules to a blended learning format. This will provide the trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material. Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek (2015) say, “Blended courses can be employed when the instructor feels that the online activities are more productive learning experiences for students”.

The solution proposed by the training manager involves the following components:

  • Convert all face-to-face training sessions into a blended format
  • Materials will be posted on the server for easy access of resources after the training session

To complete this request the trainer needs to identify the following:

  • Pre-planning strategies to consider before converting the program
  • Aspects of the original program that could be enhanced in the distance learning format
  • The role of the trainer in the distance learning environment
  • Methods used to encourage online interaction

Before starting, the trainer should consider what aspects of the quality of the face-to-face format is lacking.  To make a change in the modality of the learning requires that there is an instructional problem to be solved.  Perhaps the problem is not with the curriculum but with the environment in which it is delivered, the culture of the organization, or with the trainer himself.  Before changing anything, the current training should go through a careful evaluation such as the AEIOU Approach, which considers the Accountability, Effectiveness, Impact, Organizational Context, and Unanticipated Consequences (Simonson et al, 2015).  If, in fact, the issue is instructional, then the trainer should use the following best practices guide questions to develop the distance education resources.

The training manager should use a systematic design approach when planning the conversion. This approach should include analyzing the content to determine which parts of the course can best benefit from an online environment. Designing blended courses is an iterative process involving content design, course development, course implementation, course evaluation, and course revision (Keengwe & Kidd, 2010). Communication and teamwork are critical. Designers should involve the trainer, technology, and subject matter experts throughout the entire design process.

Otte (2005) says blended courses require that informed choices be made about which medium to use for what purpose. Since the training manager is having problems with communication in the face-to-face setting, asynchronous discussions may provide the flexibility, time, and anonymity students need to become more active participants in classroom discussions (Keengwe & Kidd, 2010). Once the course is active, communication and interactivity will be essential. The training manager should be aware of the changing role of the instructor in the online environment. Discussions must be purposely designed and managed in a timely manner. In an online environment the role of the trainer will change to more of a facilitator versus teacher. In addition, the trainer will need to include a tutorial for the trainees on using the new online system.

The following checklist (Bart, 2010) is a good resource for the trainer to use.

Assessing Online Facilitation Instrument







Bart, M. (2010). A Checklist for facilitating online courses. Faculty Focus: Focused on Today’s Higher Education Professional. Retrieved from

Keengwe, J. & Kidd, T. (2010). Towards best practices in online learning and teaching in higher education. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(2), 1-11.

Otte, G. (2005). Using blended learning to drive faculty development (and vice versa). In J. Bourne & J. C. Moore (Eds.), Elements of Quality Online Education: Engaging Communities (pp. 73-85). Needham, MA: The Sloan Consortium.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a. distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

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The Impact of Open Source


          Due to the influence and expansion of technology over the years, education, specifically distance learning has evolved tremendously. Students are now able to view resources and course materials online. Open courseware is a course resource that is available on the internet and is provided by universities such as MIT, Yale, Michigan, Johns Hopkins, Harvard Medical School and many others.

Open Source vs. Open Courseware

Open Courseware is a term that consists of all supporting digital material for academic courses such as; syllabi, lecture notes, reading lists, presentation slides, case studies and software that is available for educational use and is shared via the internet at no cost (Baldi, Heier, Stanzick, 2002). Students can preview these types of courses to make choices about enrolling in the class or just expanding their knowledge base. One of the main benefits of using open courseware are the materials are free for the learner. However, a drawback of using these types of courses is that the learner gets no recognition (or degree) for participating

“Open source software is intended to be freely shared and can be improved upon and redistributed to others” (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). Benefits are that anyone can take a software written code and do just about anything with it, as long as the uses are consistent with the 10-part definition (Simonson, Smaldino,& Zvacek, 2015). One potential drawback of open source software is that if the open source “software includes its construction plans, anyone, who knows how to read them, can profit from the ideas and insights of the original programmer” (Baldi, Heier, Stanzick, 2002).

Previewed Course



Instructor: Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta

Retrieved from: Open Yale Courses

          When entering this course site, the course set up if very clear. Each resource is clearly identified, the student can download files associated with the course, purchase books, and view the course syllabus. This course has 24 lecture sessions and two exams that have been recorded and can be live streamed or downloaded. Yale also provides a survey for this open course. The survey contains ten questions regarding the student views of the course.

My background is in education. I chose this particular course to evaluate because of a personal interest in the Italian language. Coming from a big Italian family, this course caught my attention. Some factors that Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek (2015), believe are important to include in a course are: student-instructor interaction and student-student interaction, such as discussion groups, a variety of teaching and learning strategies and methods that are activity based, opportunities to assess progress through papers, quizzes or exams, and the use of multimedia (print, audio and video). This particular course does meets most but not all of the needs of distance learners. This course does not provide the discussion groups. A majority of the course seemed to be the material from a face-to-face course. This course did provide two exams to assess learning.

I compared the course to Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek’s Fundamentals of Teaching Online strategies in the table below. On the left is the strategy used and on the right is how ITAL 310 measured up to those strategies.

Fundamentals of Teaching Online (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015) ITAL 310 Comments


Avoid “dumping” a Face-to-Face course onto the Web The course content seems to be the material that is used in a face-to-face classroom


Organize the Course and make organization and requirements clear to students The content of the course is easy to navigate with numbered lessons and exams


Keep students informed constantly There is no interaction between the instructor and student in this course


Think about course outcomes Students are provided the opportunity to use higher order thinking skills to understand the material in the course


Test application, not rote memory There are 2 exams throughout the course to assess learning


Integrate the power of the Web into the course The course uses Web 2.0 tools, uses the internet to download files, youtube to view videos and surveys about the course


Apply adult learning principles There was little to no evidence that adult learning principles were used in this course


Extend course reading beyond the text (or to replace the text) The option to purchase the course book and the option to purchase the Professors book, articles and youtube videos


Train students to use the course web site No training is provided to the students but there are materials available to download


Open courseware provides an opportunity for adult learners to expand their knowledge without the additional cost. Students can gain knowledge from the course, but will not earn any college credits by participating in this learning experience. In addition, this course does not meet the fundamentals of designing and teaching instruction online. These courses are not designed with the learner in mind. Most of these courses are comprised of the materials from face-to-face courses. Open courseware provides an ample amount of time for students to use the course materials, become familiar with the content and absorb the new information. In order for “deep learning to occur, we need to have repeated exposure to the information, along with some time in between for reflection” (Anderson, 2011).



Anderson, M. (2011, January-February).  The world is my school: Welcome to the era of personalized learning. The Futurist. Retrieved from:

Baldi, S., Heier, H., & Stanzick, F. (2002). Open courseware vs. open source software- A critical comparison.  Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S.,& Zvack, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Yale University (2015). ITAL 310: DANTE IN TRANSLATION. Retrieved from Yale Open courses website: