Traci's Blog

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." ~Goethe

Future of Distance Learning


Distance learning has came a long way in our society. From correspondence study to online learning, distance learning has revealed diversity and ongoing change in the past 160 years of its existence. “The history also shows that advances in technology have promoted key changes in distance education” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012, p. 58). Indeed, technology has propelled distance education to its famed glory by making it accessible at any place and any time. As technology develops and expand even further, distance education will continue to grow and continue to be a formidable format of delivering education.

Perceptions of Distance Learning in the Future (5-10 years)
In the next 5 or 10 years, I believe distance education will be more accepted by naysayers because they will be less intimidated about technology and the physical separation of the instructor. Distance education technology may seem “to be unfamiliar or difficult to learn for many students, so they might not be enthusiastic about participating in online activities” (as cited in Tao, Ramsey, & Watson, 2011, para. 4). As more of the younger generation grow up in this technological world, they will come more accustomed to new technologies. Based on the Diffusion of Innovations theory, I believe the younger generation will become innovators and early adopters of technology (McLean, 2005). Innovators are individuals who are willing to take the time and energy to learn and use new technologies. Early adopters are individuals who are considered leaders and recognize the potential of innovation. I also believe that the older generation will be less enthusiastic about new technologies, and would be labeled as the late majority or the laggards from the Diffusion of Innovation theory. The late majority are individuals who are skeptical to change and often adopt technology only when pressured. Laggards are individuals who simply resist technologies.
In 5-10 years, I see the late majority and the laggards becoming more enthusiastic about technologies because the younger generation will be more prevalent in society. Technological fluency is becoming a requirement in schools and the corporate world, which could increase the adoption of technology and future propel distance education in the lives of people in society.

Perceptions of Distance Learning in the Future (10-20 years)
In the next 10-20 years, I believe distance learning will become more accepted by everyone because of advances in technology and the adoption of this technology. Growing acceptance of distance education will be due to increase online communication, practical experience with new tools, growing comfort with online discourse, and the ability to communicate with diverse global groups. (Laureate, n.d.). As previously mentioned, as technology fluency becomes more of a requirement, the use of distance learning will increase. “Ubiquitous technology may continue to increase the options available for distributing distance education to more people in a scalable fashion, especially if it is accompanied by technological fluency” (Howell, Williams, Lindsay, 2003, para. 44). Distance learning may become more acceptable and more prevalent than tradition classroom learning.

Advocating to Improve Societal Perceptions of Distance Learning through Instructional Design
As a future instructional designer, I believe I can improve society’s perceptions of distance learning through designing exceptional online instruction. One of the disadvantages of distance education is a lack of attention to educational quality (Aggarawal, 2007). Distance education should provide equivalent learning experiences to that of traditional classroom learning. Quality should not suffer because the delivery method is different. Some of society view distance education as lacking because of the separation of the student from the teacher. Because of the traditional classroom setting, society is dependent on the teacher presence. I believe society has lost confidence in their ability to control their own learning. Distance education is student-centered, in which the learning takes place through student activity ( Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012, p. 44). There is a pedagogical shift with distance education, “moving from a transmission model to constructivist, sociocultural and metacognitive models. These models use computer-mediated communication and emphasize students’ responsibility for their own learning” (as cited in Howell, Williams, Lindsay, 2003, para. 32 ). As an instructional designer, I would like to design student-centered instruction that will not only foster knowledge, but build the confidence in the student to further engage in their own learning and contribute to the community of knowledge.

Aggarwal, D. D. (2007). Future of Distance Education. Sarup & Sons
Howell, S.L., Williams, P.B., & Lindsay, N.K. (2003). Thirty-two trends affecting distance education: an informed foundation for strategic planning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. 6 (3). Retrieved from
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from
McLean, J. (2005). Addressing faculty concerns about distance learning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. 8 (4). Retrieved from
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.
Tao, J., Ramsey, C., & Watson, M. (2011). Using blended learning to prepare future distance learning: a technology perspective. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 8(1). Retrieved from


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One thought on “Future of Distance Learning

  1. Hi Traci,
    I am looking forward to following your blog!

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