Saturday, November 3, 2007

Distance Learning Trends and Planning

Scott Howell, Ph.D., is an expert on trends and planning. Dr. Scott Howell speaks about accreditation and how it affects financial aid for universities. This is important because it does affect distance learning. Peter B. Williams ,who is now Dr. Williams, interests are in technology and distance learning. Nathan K. Lindsay is also interested in distance education. I bring this up because I always find it interesting to see if people keep writing about their interests as doctoral (or Master's) students. My interests have changed since my Master's research because I now work within different demographics of my student population. Many of the needs and issues are the same.

However, with technology and distance learning on the rise, my interests have changed from ESL to this technology topic due to the lack of technological resources in Santa Barbara county in school districts. Even though I pay almost $200 annually for 2 separate high school district bond measures (passed in 2000 & 2004), there is no technology plan (that I am aware of anyway) in place. I also pay $ 130 a year for the Orcutt school bond passed in 1999 and $120 a year for Hancock Community College bond passed last year. I am not complaining because indeed I voted for two of the bond measures to pass since I have lived in the county. I am an advocate for better educational facilities and we are in dire need for these improvements for our students. My complaint is that with no plan in place our generations of students will not be competitive in the world educationally.

This brings me to the point ~ finally ~ this article stresses the importance of planning for the future and these authors are right on! We don't just needs bonds for brick and mortar, we need them for distance learning facilities. My vision is that schools will have to be experts on certain content for advanced learners whereas their university or college (or even high school) will be able to broadcast one of a kind lectures from the experts in their field to the world similar to that in Baltimore. For elementary students, I still do not have a vision, but I am thinking along the lines of learning and social interactions activities combined. I strongly believe in learning styles and how they too will effect distance learning. We will always have the academia, the jocks, the artists, etc. and we need to have plans in place to accommodate them. These people are who they are because that is how they enjoy learning. If we can reach them doing what they enjoy, we may prosper instead of fall behind. We have many hurdles to jump! Policy, equity, access, organizational transformations, and leadership are just a few. As educators we must be prepared to jump high because it is no longer a choice - it is a necessity. Children need structure and when they come down after jumping their hurdles, I want them to land softly into well prepared curricula that will be beneficial to them as future leaders in the 21st century. This is what we must provide and we must become experts in distance learning planning or we will all be left face first in the dust!

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