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Online Learning Environments Essay

1221 words - 5 pages

Terms such as “delivering education” or “delivering knowledge” have all been used at one time or another in television commercials or internet advertisements to refer to the education provided in the field of distance education. However, if we look at the official definition of the word delivered as presented in the Merriam-Webster dictionary we find that the word is derived from the term “deliver” which means “to take or hand over.” In this paper I will demonstrate that because constructivist online learning environments follow the constructivism learning paradigm that involves both cognitive and social interaction of knowledge, the term delivered should not be used to describe good online learning environments.
Brief over view of the history of Distance Education
Online learning environments did not self generate but are the fifth generation of distance education. According to Moore and Kearsley, the development of distance education is divided into five generations. The first correspondence, second broadcasting, third open universities, fourth interactive teleconferencing and the fifth online Internet-based (Moore & Kearsley, 2005). Of all the generations of distance education the one most resembling the term “delivering education” would be the first generation. This generation consisted of educational assignments were delivered to the learner. Once completed the learner returned the assignment to the instructor through the postal system and awaited the next assignment (Moore, 2005). This initial system of distance education may be viewed as “surface or shallow approach to learning (e.g., emphasis on memorizing, simple recall of facts” (Bullen & Janes, 2007, p. 106) However, as the technology of distance education continued to advance through the generations there has been a shift in the technology of distance education from autonomous asynchronous learning technology to a combination of autonomous and synchronous learning technology.

Asynchronous and Synchronous technology

Asynchronous technology of first generation distance education made “content available on demand independently of teacher availability” (Pullen and Snow, 2007). Asynchronous technologies allowed learners the flexibility of information on demand or individualized learning. Examples of these asynchronous technologies include lecture notes, CD-ROM’s, DVDs or Email. (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 55) However, the introductions of synchronous technology of fifth generation distance education “allows interaction both among students and between instructor and student in real-time” (Pullen and Snow 2007). Examples of these synchronous technologies are audio conferencing, videoconferencing and chats (Bates & Poole, 2003, p.55). With the use of these synchronous technologies distance education pedagogy of education is able to move from a shallow approach to learning to a deeper “Holistic” approach to learning. With the holistic approach to learning a deeper personal...

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