Distance Learning: Still A Ways Away For Some

Updated: February 21, 2011

There's a great article on Distance Learning By Ken Gordon, Tech Learning on Server Pipeline. [Click here for the article]

It details how to implement distance learning software into the classroom. It's a real top-notch article. However, in my experience, in a rather large organization, distance learning is easier said than done.

Now, let me set the stage and unequivocally state my support, admiration and desire to use distance learning software in a variety of circumstances. As an educator, I can find many uses for distance learning, from providing students with "canned" lecture for review purposes, to running "live" classes. The only drawback I have found is that as the lecturer, I am unable to look at the faces of my students.

For those who don't teach, there's nothing like human interaction to motivate an instructor. None of us were born with poker faces. We wear our feelings on our sleeves, as well as our faces. How else do you know someone is under the weather, or has that "glow" of something special has just happened? You look at their face.

Students are no different. As you lecture, and look at their faces, you see expressions that tell you a) they're bored, b) they're fascinated, c) they understand and d) they're just plain lost. Each face is different, and because they're fascinated doesn't necessarily mean they understand.

Here's why distance learning is an uphill battle. In many organizations, there's a wide range of backgrounds and ages. I have found those of us who did not grow up on the computer have a tougher time using Distance Learning.

The reasons are pretty simple; we learned to learn in a classroom setting, our seats facing front, so many rows across, and deep. The teacher stood up front and lectured, or used slides, or movies, or overhead projection. But Distance Learning through the Internet is a new animal for these people.

In one organization I belong to, with more than 38,000 members, we have yet to successfully launch a Distance Learning initiative, not for lack of trying, not for lack of great software, but because of deference to this type of educational methodology.

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