Contribution To The Evolution Of Distance Education

1528 words - 6 pages

Distance education as we know it materialized in the 1960s, and although it predominantly consisted as a self-directed learning method (correspondence courses, with textbooks and previously prepared lessons), it presented opportunities for the working populace to receive an education; however, it was also the foundation of an emerging issue which accompanied distance education and continued to adversely develop as time progressed, yet modern online learning has been enhanced by the theories of illustrious scholars. Theories of Transactional distance and Andragogy have influenced the technological expansion of distance education into the 21st century's streamlined, learner-centered environment.
Distance education (DE) has historically had a low success rate. "From past to present, dropout rate of students is [sic] one of the main problems regarding to [sic] distance education. Related research showed that approximately 30% and 50% of distance education students fail to complete distance education courses" (Horzum, 2012, p. 1). One institution, the University System of Georgia, is searching for new methods to improve the distance education model, for studies have revealed facts documenting that distance education graduation rates have declined and withdrawal numbers have increased despite the fact that traditional face-to-face instruction have remained unchanged; moreover, Coastline Community College interviewed several students regarding online education, and a substantial percentage of those students interviewed stated that they never intended to earn an online degree program (Nash, n.d.). Distance education courses were not taken seriously, nor where they viewed as a beneficial form of learning, for there are no professors, students, or a traditional classroom where interaction or constructive feedback materializes. The distance education student is isolated from the instructor and fellow students, and when a feeling of isolation becomes overwhelming, students can lose interest and enthusiasm and possibly fail to complete the course. This particular feeling of isolation in DE has been coined the transactional distance (TD). Higher educational institutions have focused their attention to better understand theories and how they could impacted the future of distance education.
Transactional distance is the physiological separation between the student and the instructor by space and or by time. Moore (1993) stated, "The transactional function is determined by the extent to which teachers and students interact…"(Peters, 2004, p. 28). If transactional distance develops due to lack of interaction amongst the students and instructor, what steps can educational institutions apply to narrow the transactional distance? There are three variables which impact the physiological separation. The first variable is dialog. Dialogue is the process between the teacher and learner. If there is an absence of communication, the...

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