The Future of Distance Learning


The U.S. Department of Education recently reported that were 12.2 million students enrolled in online courses in the 2006-2007 academic year, a remarkable increase over the 3,077 million student enrollments in the 2000-2001 school year (Mortagy, & Boghikian-Whitby 2010). The convenience of online learning is becoming more attractive to the busy adult learner. While there are still many skeptics, I believe that distance learning is going to gain worldwide acceptance.  As an instructional designer, it is important to promote our field in a positive and optimistic way. 

I believe the perception of distance learning in the future will be one that the quality is equivalent to that of a traditional classroom. As the number of people who are required to use a computer increases, so will their comfortably on the internet. Futurist William Gibson has been quoted as saying “the future is already here, it is just not evenly distributed.”  George Siemens (n.d.) believes that because there is an increase of online contact, useful experience with new technology, users feeling at ease when online, and the ability to talk to with a diverse audience, it has made online education more acceptable. New communication technologies, contribution by experts from around the world and the increase use of multimedia games in the upcoming years will help change the perception of the purpose of the internet and help make distance education credible and more prestigious (n.d.).

As an instructional designer, I can advocate for improving societal perceptions of distance learning by talking about and designing quality courses.  Courses should have clear goals, focus, appropriate assignments, media and assessments (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009).  Instructional Designers should also listen to evaluative feedback from their students (2009).  In addition to quality faculty, distance learners are interested in high level curriculum, supportive classrooms, good reputation and flexibility (Gambescia, & Paolucci, 2009). IDs must keep these factors in mind when building a class.  If designed successfully, students will become the IDs advocate for online learning, telling friends and co-workers about great learning experiences.

I will be a positive force for continuous improvement of the distance education field in many ways.  First, I will continue my education in this field.  Before taking enrolling in Walden, I had not been a student for 15 years. Because of all of the new knowledge I have learned, I realize the importance of returning to school.  Both my students and colleagues have benefited from the knowledge that I have shared.  Second, I am going to be proposing our first distance learning courses at our high school. I want to have alternatives for students who may fail the traditional course.  Finally, I am currently and in the future, going to talk about the integration of technology and education.  By positively promoting distance learning, it will help not only introduce skeptics to online learning, but it will indirectly improve the quality of distance learning because the student will be able to choose from a variety of credible institutions.  I look forward to the future and my up-in-coming design experiences. 


Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from

Malamad, C. (2009). The future of learning design. Retreived October 28, 2011 from

Mortagy, Y. & Boghikian-Whitby, S. (2010). A Longitudinal comparative study of student perceptions in online education. Retrieved October 26, 2011 from

Siemens, G. (n.d.). The Future of Distance Education. Retrieved October 26, 2011 from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. patriciakuskos
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 01:47:40

    Hi Jen,

    I will be following you blog for the project management course. I look forward to reading your posts.

    Patricia Kuskos


  2. Pat
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 10:17:52

    I am following you post


  3. luvelylife
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 18:26:40

    Hi Jennifer,
    Your blog is beautiful and informative. I am now following your posts.


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