Scope Creep

Scope creep is applicable to many situations. It refers to changes happening within a project occurring outside of the initial scope of the project through the addition of unauthorized features, functions, requirements, or work (Larson & Larson, 2009). To demonstrate the concept of scope creep, I am going to share a personal experience of going on a shopping trip for groceries.

Every two weeks, I get groceries. My process usually starts by writing a list of the necessary items I need for the house. Then, I estimate the amount I will spend at the store to see if I need to reevaluate my grocery list. When I finalize the list, I ask family members if there are any other items needed from the store. Upon final confirmations, I grab enough reusable bags for the grocery store haul. Then, I set off to the store to complete the grocery store task.

In an ideal world I would shop for exactly what is on my list and nothing else. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. Fast forward to halfway through my grocery trip; I’ve received multiple calls for additional items: coffee, creamer, almond thin crackers, etc. I have the option of ignoring their requests or purchasing  the items. Most of the time, I’ve planned for the risk of adding additional items. Therefore, I will purchase the extra items. There has only been a handful of times where I had to tell them it was not in my budget. Other times, I would have to indicate the item would have to wait until the next shopping trip or to pay me back for the additional item.

How does this apply to scope creep, stakeholders, and managing the issues of scope creep? It is applicable in the sense of being a task that needs to be accomplished within a timeline, has a budget, includes people, etc. The actual items I add outside of the initial list are the effects of scope creep. My stakeholders are usually satisfied with the grocery shopping trips I make because even with the additional items it is within the budget. Managing scope creep is difficult for me when it comes to grocery shopping. I have the want to get everything my stakeholders ask for, but I know to comply will impact the budget negatively. Therefore, I closely monitor the items I place into my cart to stay within budget even with scope creep affecting my shopping trip (Laureate Education, n.d.a).

Although I allow scope creep to happen within my shopping trip, I’ve planned for it based on experience. It doesn’t sneak up on me. I keep an open line of communication with my stakeholders updating them on the available or unavailable items, asking importance of the item, or if necessary. It may sound silly to think of scope creep within a shopping trip, but if a person has a lean budget being aware of this idea is important. Personal tasks or projects for school or business scope creep can happen in many situations, but the stakes are different. A contingency plan needs to be in place to battle scope creep whatever the situation to increase the chances of having a successful project (Laureate Education, n.d.b.).

References

Larson, R. & Larson, E. (2009). Top five causes of scope creep … and what to do about them. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2009—North America, Orlando, FL. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.a). Monitoring projects [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.b). Project management concerns: Establishing workflow [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Project Planning Resources

Every project needs a roadmap (project plan) to help the project manager navigate the direction of a project from the starting point to the final destination(Larson & Larson, 2012). The roadmap or project plan requires various components initial planning, organization, project launch, management, and the closeout (Laureate Education, n.d). Aside from these processes, a project manager needs to deliver a quality project on time by utilizing instructional design principles and effective communication (Laureate Education, n.d). Experienced project managers have the routine of creating project plans, which is great. However, this doesn’t help the novice, inexperienced project managers or the experienced project manager trying to improve their project planning skills. The areas I struggle with the most in the project plan are scheduling, budget, and project breakdown. For this reason, I found three resources that can hopefully aid those like me that are struggling with those aspect of the project plan or are looking for new resources to add to their resource database.

Resources

1. Girl’s Guide to Project Management

This site works to equip its viewers with the knowledge to carryout a successful project. The author of the site Elizabeth Harrin offers templates, mentoring, and training at affordable prices. She also provides some free templates and access to her resource library, which allows a person a trial of her work before purchasing her other templates. A couple of the free templates are the Gantt chart template and an action log. Harrin indicates the Gantt chart template is not dynamic, but can be used for communication (Harrin, 2020). The action log helps to track the project actions. The two main issues I have with this site pertain to its organization and lack of ease to locate the resource library. If you have time to navigate the site, it does have some worthwhile information.

2. Nutcache

Nutcache (2020a) is a website and app that provides products to “manage the entire lifecyle of your projects”. Unfortuantely, this site is not free if you want to access the templates or other products. It does provide low cost options ranging from $6 – $12 monthly (Nutcache, 2020a). If you aren’t convinced to use their website, a free trial is available or free access to their blog (Nutcache, 2020b). Recently, I viewed the article “What is a project schedule management plan” from the blog; it outlined different ways to avoid the pitfalls leading to wasted resource (Nutchache, 2020b). In addition, this site is easy to navigate and informative.

3. The Performance Juxtaposition Site

This site has great information about relating to training, leadership, learning, design, and human performance (Clark, 1995). Clark’s (2015) post  “Estimating Costs and Time in Instructional Design” provides information on the breakdown of costs and the way it can change based on the people involved (experienced versus inexperienced). Towards the end of his post, Clark provides other hyperlinks that can be helpful in project planning such as compiling a job and task inventory or a cost estimator.

References

Clark, D. (1995). The performance juxtaposition site. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/index.html

Clark, D. (2015). Estimating costs and time in instructional design. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/costs.html

Harrin, E. (2020). Girl’s guide to pm. Retrieved from https://www.girlsguidetopm.com/

Larson, E., & Larson R. (2012). 10 steps to creating a project plan. Retrieved from https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/10-steps-to-creating-a-project-plan.html

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Project management and instructional design [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Nutcache. (2020a). The #1 project management app everyone’s raving about. Retrieved from https://www.nutcache.com/

Nutcache. (2020b). What is a project schedule management plan? Retrieved from https://www.nutcache.com/blog/what-is-a-project-schedule-management-plan/

Mission: Effective Communication

Communication can be influence by many factors because it goes beyond spoken or written words. It includes from the speaker perspective the timing, personality, tonality, and body language; the personality of the recipient receiving the communication also effects how the message is received (Laureate Education, n.d.). The rest of this blog will examine communication from Jane to Mark over three modalities: email, voicemail, and face-to-face (The Art of Effective Communication, n.d.). The message from The Art of Effective Communication (n.d.) being examined goes as follows:

  Hi Mark,
  I know you have been busy and possibly in that all day meeting   
  today, but I really need an ETA on the missing report. Because 
  your report contains data I need to finish my report, I might 
  miss my own deadline if I don’t get your report soon. Please 
  let me know when you think you can get your report sent over to 
  me, or even if you can send the data I need in a separate 
  email.
  I really appreciate you help.
  Jane

Email

My initial reaction to the email sent to Mark was it showed empathy towards his time. It was also a simple statement aimed to receive the report to finish Jane’s own work. The issue with this email is it is missing clarity. For example, if Jane had talked to Mark about the missing report in the past, she can reference that point in time or the name of the missing report to jog the recipient’s memory. Jane asks for specific data, but fails to mention the specific data she needs from Mark. This will cause to much back and forth emailing before Jane can get the information she needs for her report. Finally, Jane’s tone sounds hurried and reads as if she is assigning blame to Mark for not providing the details she needs in time for her own deadline. Silberman (n.d.) mentions emails need to be examined before hitting the reply or send button for emails because tone and clarity can become a bit part of being misunderstood in an email.

Voicemail

The voicemail served as a great method to remind Mark about the missing report. Jane’s tone seemed flat in the message, which means she might be tired or frustrated with Mark about his lack of adhering to a deadline. After hearing the message, I was left wondering should Mark return the call to provide the information she needs, email, or meet with her later. Jane indicates what she needs, but not how she wants to receive that information. Other issues to consider is Jane doesn’t introduce herself at the beginning of the voicemail or leave a preferred number for contact. This leaves Mark in a state of needing to figure out who called him and how to contact her back. Many people don’t like having to do extra work to provide information others need because it interferes with the work they are doing. Sven (2017) indicates some simple tips to when leaving a voicemail such as identify yourself in a voicemail, deliver a concise message, and indicate when or how to contact you back.

Face-to-Face

Upon seeing and hearing the face to face delivery of Jane’s message, it was easier to gage her tone and purpose. Her tone stresses the importance of procuring the data from Mark’s report without sounding rude. Jane also places herself in a position to answer give immediate feedback to any of Mark’s questions and receive immediate feedback from Mark. The way Jane phrases her statement to Mark identifies the purpose for the impromptu meeting at his cubicle. Based on the different modalities of communication, I would identify this one as the best method. It allows for the most immediate response. This mode of communication also gives the recipient a better awareness of the need for expediting the information. The idea behind using face to face communication are to demonstrate importance, better interpret ideas, enhance credibility or trust, building peer-relationships, obtaining immediate feedback, and addressing sensitive issues, which is what we see in the face-to-face exchange from Jane to Mark (Grossman, 2019).

Conclusion

Each modality of communication has its pros and cons, with none being immune to misconceptions. Regardless, of its pros and cons each serves a purpose in the world of communication. Depending on the situation the best method for communication should be leveraged. For example, important information should initially be delivered live; then, key information should be sent out or reiterated through email, and reminders can be left on voicemail (Laureate Education, n.d.). The final thought I want to leave you with is “stakeholder engagement is thus a complex competency to be developed” meaning knowing more than just what the best type of communication is, but understanding how this looks in different organizational cultures and how to use it appropriately (Aakhus & Bzdak, 2015, p.188).

References

Aakhus, M., & Bzdak, M. (2015). Stakeholder engagement as communication design practice. Journal of Public Affairs, 15(2), 188-200. DOI: 10.1002/pa.1569.

Grossman, D. (2019, April 15). Face-to-face communication: 6 reasons to lead in person. Retrieved from https://www.yourthoughtpartner.com/blog/bid/44390/leading-in-person-6-reasons-to-communicate-face-to-face

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Silberman, L. (2020). 25 tips for perfecting your e-mail etiquette. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/guides/2010/06/email-etiquette.html

Sven. (2017, August 29). Voicemail etiquette – what to say when no one’s listening. Retrieved from https://www.userlike.com/en/blog/voicemail-etiquette

The art of effective communication. (n.d.) [Multimedia Program]. Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html

Project Post-mortem

Project post-mortem may sound dreary or indicative of a failed project. However, this is not accurate. A post-mortem can be conducted on a successful or unsuccessful project. The goal of post-mortem is to provide a retrospective look at a project to gain valuable insight for future projects (Eliason, 2019).

In my lifetime, both professionally and personally, I’ve had many projects I can consider successful, unsuccessful, or somewhere between success and failure. Regardless of where my project lands, I find myself learning from it to improve future projects. For example, I used to work as a microbiology technician at a food testing laboratory. It was here that I can describe a multitude of projects that didn’t always go in my favor or my colleagues favor.

Scenario Context

My colleagues and I were tasked on multiple occasions with prepping various environmental swabs for testing of listeria, salmonella, or other bacterial testing. We were required to fill each bag with the correct type of media and a specific amount of media. After the media is added, the swabs are placed in the corresponding incubator for a specified window of hours required to grow the bacteria that is being tested. After the incubation, the next step requires for removal of media from the environmental swabs to go on to the next phase of testing in another broth or test tube. The final step is testing for the presence of a pathogen from the swab on a PCR or vidas machine.

Scenario Problems

As you may have noticed, there are many chances for catastrophe to strike when it comes to testing environmental samples. For example, a colleague of mine had a bad habit of placing the environmental samples in the wrong incubator. Another would get into the flow of adding media to the samples that she didn’t see when the samples changed to another type of testing requiring a different media. Others, cross contaminated samples. Many different scenarios have occurred, in the cases where the issue wasn’t prevented the clients had to be asked for new samples because of lab error.

Scenario Resolution

This issue was addressed in many lab meetings because of the high volume of environmental samples that the lab tests. Through the lab meetings and individual meetings with the technician or technicians responsible, in conjunction with the writing of corrective action reports (CAR) , the lab technicians were better equipped for handling the environmental samples. Perhaps, some of the CARs relating to the environmental samples could’ve been avoided had there been more training or preventative measures put in place. It is not to say that it would guarantee success every time, but it could minimize the occurrence, just as it did after the fact through the CAR. After all, the purpose of the car is to locate the source of the problem and attempts to find a solution for the specific incident or accident (Whatissixsigma.net, 2019).

Conclusion

In retrospect, the lab management should’ve provided better training methods for the technicians, had signs of the temperature specs of each of the incubators, make technicians separate environmental samples based on tests, and have complete preparation of the work order before approving the technicians start on the project. In addition, scoping of a project is important from the management perspective, but it is also important at the technician level (Laureate Education, n.d.). If the technicians had been better equipped to scope their projects, there would have been more success with environmental samples and other lab samples in general. However, many technicians were given the autonomy to scope their own project prior to having the training to do so, which was one of the biggest issues in the lab. This was the result of management being overly occupied with meetings and other work that the approvals of technicians’ work orders became lower on the list until a mistake was made. There was a lot of problems in this lab, but taking the time to run a post-mortem on projects, as was done in the lab, is worth the effort to either continue making successful projects or turn around the unsuccessful projects.

References

Eliason, K. (2019, January 11). 11 Tips for a Successful Post-Mortem. Retrieved from https://www.portent.com/blog/project-management/tips-for-a-successful-post-mortem.htm

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Defining the scope of an ID project [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Whatissixsigma.net (2019). Corrective action report (CAR). Retrieved from https://www.whatissixsigma.net/corrective-action-report/

Welcome

Hello my fellow classmates,

Welcome to my blog! I hope it provides a different perspective or a means to converse about the similarities in our perspectives in regard to the topics we will be covering throughout EDUC 6145. I look forward to communicating and learning with you in this class through our blogs and discussion forum.

Your Classmate,

A.M.H

Reflection: Future of Distance Education

My personal definition about distance learning began with acquiring knowledge through a computer, paper, or video-based format from an undefined geological distance. Soon after developing my personal definition, Simonson provided a definition of distance education as “ institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (as cited in Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015, p. 31). This definition is short, but indicates the critical components within distance learning. There are four critical components to distance education: 1. Institution-based, 2. teacher and student separation, 3. Interactive component (communication), and 4. Resources (create a learning experience) (Simonson et al., 2015, p.32). It is important to know the definition of distance education, as is identified in this paragraph, because when a person understands what it is, how it works, and what it is used to do; then, the task of clearing  misconceptions, viewing current perceptions, and working towards creating a better future perceptions for distance learning becomes defined and has meaning. People like meaning (a tenet of Andragogy); they want to know what they learn or do has a purpose, especially when it comes to spending time and money (Pappas, 2013). 

Societal Perceptions

The perceptions within society vary about distant learning. Beginning with the misconceptions, Yuvaraj (2019) reports the most common ones are time, pace, level of difficulty, ability to form meaningful relationships, amount of learning, individual attention, and respect/reputation of the distance education program. In an interview of varying individuals, I asked them what was their biggest fear? Many of the participants cited technical issues and lack of understanding. In addition, Naidu (2014) cites the important aspect of online learning being flexibility, but this attribute doesn’t assist those that need more assistance above what is provided. So far, these views show a negative view of distance education. However, when there are misconceptions, fears, and learning needs an opportunity becomes available to create a solution.

Instructional designers have the opportunity to become the proponent for changing the way people view distance education. They can do this through using the advancement of technology and merging it with education. Laureate Education (n.d.b) indicated the validity of distance education has an increased acceptance rate because of new and better forms of communication (interactivity). Therefore, this leverage of new and better forms of communication can begin wiping away misconceptions, fears, or helping diminish the gap for those with increased learning needs.

Future Perceptions

Distance education will most likely increase in the future as technology continues to evolve (Laureate Education, n.d.a). Previously, it was stated increasing acceptance of distance education because of the newer experiences of communication online (Laureate Education, n.d.b). In a similar respect, being able to personalize learning through adaptive learning software such as DreamBox (math education software) and being able to show positive results of student learning could continue the growth rate of acceptance towards distance learning (Bernard, 2017). The Microsoft HoloLens creates mixed reality with 3D holograms; this technology could create a deeper learning experience from the way the user interacts with the learning objects (Microsoft, 2020). The creation of this type of technology indicates in 5-10 or 10-20 years there can be a shift and acceptance towards the way we learn that mimics the experiences in a face to face class. The closer technology gets to mimicking a face-to-face experience or superseding hands on learning will be the way to continue growth of acceptance and validity in distance learning.

Conclusion

Technology may be a driving force to increase acceptance and validity. However, a tool in the wrong hands will not drive continuous improvement in the field of distance education. For example, Moller, Forshay, and Huett (2008) mention instructional designers create a quality e-learning program by considering design, learning theory, resources to support learning, evaluation, and revision. This supports the premise that creating a quality e-learning program or training requires more than just the components that support learning, but an ingenuity to shape instruction geared towards a learning goal with the tools (technology) to support that learner in obtaining the goal. As a novice instructional designer, it is instrumental to know that technology has its place within distance education because of its ability to be a positive force; yet, it is up to the instructional designers to know how and when to incorporate the right technology to continue changing the perception of society to a different way of learning called distance learning.       

References

Bernard, Z. (2017). Here’s how technology is shaping the future of education. Business Insider.

Retrieved:  http://www.businessinsider.com/how-technology-is-shaping-the-future-of-education-2017-12

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.a). Distance education: The next generation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.b). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Microsoft. (2020). HoloLens2. Retrieved from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens

Moller, L., Forshay, W. R., & Huett, J. (2008). The Evolution of Distance Education:

Implications for Instructional Design on the Potential of the Web. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning52(3), 70–75. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1007/s11528-008-0158-5

Naidu, S. (2014). Looking back, looking forward: the invention and reinvention of distance education. Distance Education, 35(3), 263-270. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1080/01587919.2014.961671

Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The Adult Learning Theory-Andragogy- of Malcom Knowles. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education

Yuvaraj. (2019, June 11). 7 Misconception About Distance Education. Retrieved from

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

This week using the learning resources from the class and other resources, I will examine the scenario below to reflect on specific considerations and create a best practice guide for the trainer. The scenario:

A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times. (Fenton, n.d.)

Considerations

Pre-planning strategies.

Before converting the program to a distance education: blended learning format, it is important for the training manager to seek the help of an instructional designer or use instructional design practices when considering converting the training program. In looking at instructional design practices, specific criteria are usually met within systematic design models such as the Kemp model or ADDIE model to decide if there is need for a change in the instruction by considering a needs analysis, learner analysis, and performance gap analysis (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp,2013).  It is important to look at this criterion to decide if the training will benefit from an online component or change. If it does constitute change, then looking at each component of the original face to face course and planning ways of adapting or completely changing the material for an online platform.  Prior to arriving at the phase of evaluating what will make it onto the online aspect of the course should be the reformatting the learning outcomes, goals, and objectives to fit the new format of the class because the goal is to provide equivalent learning experiences in the new setting (Laureate Education, n.d.).

Enhance original training program.

From the scenario, the trainer wants to retool his training to provide quality communication. It is understandable the trainer wants to attempt an online component for the learners because an online discussion has the opportunity to change learners from passive learners to active learners (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). It also provides a greater opportunity to change the program to feature a learner centered approach; if this is not presently the case. The biggest change in the quality of discussion will come from how the prompts are formed, relevance to the learner, and the feedback received (Papas, 2013). In addition, if the training resources are all accessible and organized according to session or week, the learners can review materials prior to class or after class to help increase understanding.

Change in role.

In a distance learning environment, the trainer’s role is very important. For example, in a discussion course the trainer’s role is to lead by prompting discussion, redirecting, asking follow-up question, making expectations clear, and providing feedback (Freeman, n.d.). With the goal being higher quality discussions or meaningful discussions, the trainer’s active role in the discussion as I mentioned earlier will be helpful to accomplish this goal.  

Online communication.

In the prior section, the facilitator needs to take a lead role to indicate it is a part of the course. It needs to be outlined what are the consequences if trainees fail to comply with terms set meaning providing the learner with course expectations. Overall, assigning responsibility to the student. Using tools such as feedback and motivation can also help establish learner responsibility, which will help encourage trainees to communicate online.

Best Practice Guide

Explore the process of blended learning.

TipsExplanation
Think big, but start smallSelect a tester technology before converting a course
PatienceMistakes happen learn from it
Use to ImproveDon’ use blended learning to satisfy a technology component, but improve the current learning process
Combine online and in classroom workOnline discussions can drive projects in the classroom or teacher support
Online accessibilityDo students have a physical location they can access computers for the online component? Do students need their own laptop?

This table was made using Tucker (2013) tips to provide advice before converting an entire course to blended learning environment

Converting a course format.

ADDIE modelIdentify
AnalysisInstructional goals, target audience, and resources
DesignAlignment of learning solutions with course goals and learning activities
Development 
ImplementationLearning solution, the means of engagement for learners, preparation of facilitators
EvaluationDoes it meet the instructional goals? Is there formative and summative evaluation?

This table was made using e-Learning Infographics (2017) infographic to indicate the type of considerations needed when converting an existing course to a blended learning environment.

Conclusion

There is no one best way to go about converting a face-to-face class to a blended learning environment. However, there are good strategies to go about doing it. Starting with a systematic approach is helpful, creating storyboards, planning, knowing learners needs, and eventually the course design. There are so many aspects to consider within changing a course design, but the most important aspect is planning. Without good planning, it is easy to miss a step or forget to create a critical component for learners such as technical support.

References

e-Learning Infographics. (2017, August 8). The ADDIE Model Infographic. Retrieved from https://elearninginfographics.com/the-addie-model-infographic/

Fenton, C. (n.d.). Assignment. Converting to a Distance Learning Format. Retrieved from https://class.content.laureate.net/5555c1e3e72a1c2e12f44924fd244e88.html

Freeman, J. (n.d.) Using discussions in online courses:  The importance of interactivity [PDF document]. Retrieved https://courses.dcs.wisc.edu/design-teaching/

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Theory and distance learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The Adult Learning Theory-Andragogy- of Malcom Knowles.Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Distance Learning: Mind Map

This mind map shows the definition, vision, and pros and cons of distance learning. To view a larger version just click on the image.

References

CHEA. (n.d.). Degree Mills: An Old Problem & A New Threat. Retrieved from https://www.chea.org/degree-mills-old-problem-new-threat.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Distance education: The next generation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Moller, L., Forshay, W. R., & Huett, J. (2008). The Evolution of Distance Education: Implications for Instructional Design on the Potential of the Web. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning52(3), 70–75. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1007/s11528-008-0158-5

Piedmont Community College. (2019). Are You Ready for Distance Learning? Retrieved from https://www.piedmontcc.edu/Online-Distance-Learner/About-Distance-Education/Are-You-Ready-for-Distance-Learning

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education

Wood, C. (2005). The Virtual Classroom Redefines Education. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/online-education-virtual-classrooms

The Nature of Distance Learning

Distance Learning in its simplest form would break apart into acquiring knowledge from an undefined geological distance. I would amend this definition to include the acquired knowledge would not be limited to online learning (computer-based), but include paper or video resources as well. My definition was developed based on my past experiences of learning away from a traditional face to face institution via online, independent study, and watching family members complete required video-based courses and submitting papers through the postal system. As I mentioned, this definition was my working definition before reading more about the topic of distance learning.

After conducting more research on the topic of distance learning, I found my working definition contained gaps. Fundamentally it embodies the idea of distance learning, but the concept is one that has the ability to change and continue to be redefined as new technologies become available. To update my definition, I would reshape it to resemble Simonson definition of distance education where it was defined “as institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (as cited in Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015, p. 31). This definition would break apart distance education/learning into four components: 1. Institution based, 2. Need of separation of teacher and student, 3. Interactive communication component, and 4. Learning experience through distributed resources (Simonson et al., 2015, p.32).

With a definition established, it is important to understand the reasons learners and organizations are turning to distance education or turning away from it. A big advantage to distance learning is flexibility and lower cost (Wood, 2005). Flexibility refers to schedule, location, or pace. Disadvantages to this type of learning are an increased need for skills in the following categories: technical, study, and communication (Piedmont Community College, 2019). Knowing the pros and cons when it comes to distance education is important for the invested party because distance education is not the answer for everyone. However, it is available for those that want or need it.

Distance education will most likely increase in the future as technology continues to evolve (Laureate Education, n.d.). As this type of learning evolves, it will be important to establish credibility and quality (Simonson et al., 2015). Therefore, promoting locations that are accredited could help with the credibility and quality issue. Consumers of distance education could locate accreditation through the U.S. Department of Education or CHEA websites (CHEA, n.d.). However, credibility and quality are not just an issue of the traditional (school system) or nontraditional institution (businesses); it is an issue that relies on the instructional designers’ development of the learning.

In conclusion, distance education is more than learning from a distance. It should be education that comes from an institution, separates the learning groups, provides a mode for communication, and presents learning resources in various forms (Simonson et al., 2015). It can be synchronous or asynchronous. It should be designed by a person that understands the components necessary to make an e-learning program work such as an instructional designer. Those in ID would take into consideration design, learning theory, evaluation, revision, resources, and other components when designing a quality e-learning program (Moller, Forshay, & Huett, 2008). Presenting learning in distance education is more than placing the components a person needs to know on a page: its quality and credibility matters.

References

CHEA. (n.d.). Degree Mills: An Old Problem & A New Threat. Retrieved from https://www.chea.org/degree-mills-old-problem-new-threat.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Distance education: The next generation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Moller, L., Forshay, W. R., & Huett, J. (2008). The Evolution of Distance Education: Implications for Instructional Design on the Potential of the Web. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning52(3), 70–75. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1007/s11528-008-0158-5

Piedmont Community College. (2019). Are You Ready for Distance Learning? Retrieved from https://www.piedmontcc.edu/Online-Distance-Learner/About-Distance-Education/Are-You-Ready-for-Distance-Learning

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education

Wood, C. (2005). The Virtual Classroom Redefines Education. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/online-education-virtual-classrooms