Ready for the future?
Jul 05 1999, Education
The Technology Source published a thought-provoking article on the future of distance learning. What will education be like in about twenty years?
Alan Cummings takes his imagination to 2020 in this issue's Vision article and predicts that, by that year, the worlds of business and education will have merged. Students older than 10 will study at home with teleconferencing tools provided by corporate sponsors and learning packages designed by education brokers. Parents will update their job skills with online training software and consult employment brokers for professional planning. In the business-oriented culture of the twenty-first century, qualifications will matter greatly; social status, age, and gender will count for little; and actual performance will be everything. Could it really happen? Cummings says yes and offers readers a fascinating scenario of the future.
Towards a virtual knowledge network...
In the July/August Commentary, Charles Morrissey argues that higher education administrators should take a close look at the corporate world, where virtual workteams of employees are now collaborating and problem-solving online. "The field of professional education," he writes, "would do well to develop an educational equivalent to the virtual workplace." Specifically, Morrissey suggests that colleges and universities establish what he calls a Virtual Knowledge Network: a continuous, online learning spectrum where faculty, students, alumni, and community members can interact-to the benefit of all. Read on to learn how a Virtual Knowledge Network could propel your institution into the twenty-first century.
Leadership courses via distance learning
The Masters of School Administration (MSA) program at East Carolina University (ECU) is the focus of this issue's first Case Study. In 1997, professors in the MSA program decided to offer two educational leadership courses via distance education. They believe that, in order to ensure that school leaders will be effective in tomorrow's technology-infused world, graduate courses must prepare these leaders to adapt to changes in the field of technology and to recognize how technology can support the goals of their schools.
Distance education provides the ideal format for such preparation; after all, it allows students to master content and gain experience with technology tools at the same time. Lynn Bradshaw and Laurie Weston document the results of the MSA distance education pilot effort and describe what steps ECU professors will take in the near future to improve their distance offerings.
Online physical education
Physical education: for most people, the term conjures up images of gyms filled with lively, sweaty kids. For Peter DiLorenzo, it also conjures up images of contemplative students sitting in front of computer screens. As he explains in this issue's second Case Study, DiLorenzo uses digitized video to teach his physical education students at Floyd College (Georgia) the fundamentals of basketball, softball, volleyball, and other team sports. His experience indicates that technology can be used to improve instruction in physical education courses as well as in academic classes.
In the Virtual University section, Milton Campos and Linda Harasim describe Virtual-U, a Web-based learning environment that is customized for online education delivery. When software developers at the Canadian TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence use the term "customized," they mean it: since 1996, researchers and developers have been working collaboratively with professors and students to tailor Virtual-U to real needs. The result is an environment with such features as a personal workspace in which users can manage their learning tasks and activities, a course editor for designing and editing curriculum, a grade book, instructional tools, and examples of how to teach and learn online. Find out more about the continuing development of Virtual-U and its innovative approaches to online education by reading further.
At most colleges and universities that adopt new technologies for distance education, staff in instructional design, educational technology, and/or information technology services devote a substantial proportion of their time trying to help faculty learn to use the most effective media for communicating with distant learners. Unfortunately, as Patricia Cravener reports in the Faculty and Staff Development section, faculty usually either do not attend training programs or do not implement the new technology after the programs end. Cravener uses her Paradoxical Disjunction Model to explain why, and she delineates concrete and cost-effective ways that faculty can be motivated to seek out, as well as effectively apply, technology training.