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EDTEC 561, SDSU, Spring 2007  
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Reflection to 'Distance Educatioon'
Chapter 14, Section 14.3 to 14.9. Jonassen, D.H. (Ed.). (2004). Handbook of research on educational communications and technology. Second edition.

In section 14.3, the article introduced theoretical developments in eight categories: the industrial model, guided didactic conversation, independence and autonomy, transactional distance, control, interaction, sociocultural context, and social presence. These theories marked the theoretical evolvement of distance education. They have led distance education from one way communication (print, broadcast radio, and cable TV) to two-way interaction (audio/video teleconferencing, interactive TV, and web-based instruction) that not only has made distance education more like traditional classroom teaching in student-teacher interaction but also created more opportunities for constructive learning.

Among these theories, interaction between participants was an important core concept. Michael Moore indicated ‘distance is determined by the amount of dialog’ and further categorized three types of interactions: learner-content interaction, learner-instructor interaction, and learner-learner interaction; Garrison (1989), and garrison and Shale (1990) defined distance education to be ‘real two-way communication at the core of the educational experience’; and Fulford and Zhang (1993) indicated that students’ satisfaction comes from high level of student interaction in the course especially from overall group dynamics. Other theories regarding sociocultural context and social presence was highly emphasized on interpersonal contact in virtual space.

The 14.6, Course Design and Communication, and 14.7, Instruction and Learning Support, sections basically responded to the philosophy of theories introduced in 14.3. While 14.8, Issues Related to Teaching, discussed about the role of teacher, student-centered learning activities, and technology competencies of teacher, I was surprised to find no discussion about group processing. In my opinion, group processing skills are essential for successful distance learning as well as for practicing theories concerning interaction and social presence theories. Related studies suggested that regardless of the level of technology used for computer communication, dynamic group activities must be concerned and performed for successful learning.

By reading the article, I learned a structured macro view for distance education in terms of history, theory, and technology.

 

Reference

Wise, K., Hamman, B., & Thorson, K. (2006) Moderation, Response Rate, and Message Interactivity: Features of Online Communities and Their Effects on Intent to Participate. Jounal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Retrieved June 20. 2007 from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue1/wise.html.

Collins, M. & Berge Z. L. (1995) Resources for Moderators and Facilitators of Online Discussion. Retrieved June 25, 2007, from http://www.emoderators.com/moderators.shtml