Instructional Design — Distance Learning
Distance Learning relies primarily on indirect communication between learners and instructors in that it allows the learners to learn at different times, at their own pace, as well as in different places. The old way of spelling the acronym was DL, however this emphasized delivery method and learning equally, thus the correct acronym is now "dL", which emphasizes Learning without focus on delivery (Markley, 2006). Since the emphases is on learning, rather than distance, it uses classroom training when it makes sense.
While there are several definitions of distance learning, Valentine (2002) offers the following explanation:
Teaster and Blieszner (1999) say “the term distance learning has been applied to many instructional methods: however, its primary distinction is that the teacher and the learner are separate in space and possibly time” (pg. 741). Desmond Keegan (1995) gives the most thorough definition. He says that distance education and training result from the technological separation of teacher and learner which frees the student from the necessity of traveling to “a fixed place, at a fixed time, to meet a fixed person, in order to be trained” (pg. 7). From these definitions we can see that the student and teacher are separated by space, but not necessarily by time.
While distance learning technology has sped up the availability of information, it has done little to speed up knowledge acquisition; with information being a one-dimensional message that is bonded by its form and knowledge being the assimilation and connection of information through experience.
It takes about the same amount of time today to learn French, calculus, or chemistry as it did 200 years ago. Knowledge is time-consuming and expensive to develop, retain, and transfer — and that's as true for organizations and countries as it is for individuals. — Laurence Prusak in “The World is Round.” Harvard Business Review, April 2006.
As noted earlier, dL will use classrooms in a blended solution composed of classrooms and elearning as there is some evidence that this may actually enhance the learning. Sitzmann and Ely (2009) found that this type of blended solution increased learning by an average of 11% for both procedural and declarative knowledge. There seems to be something almost magical about blending the interactive and social nature of classrooms with the self-paced environment of elearning.
While dL is no better than a classroom when it comes to learning, its is also no worse. While some learners do need the real advantages that distance learning offers, such as not having to travel to the classroom and being able to learn on their own time, most learners seem to thrive with the socializing effects of classrooms — we just love being around others. Thus, if you cannot attend class and are capable of learning without others around you, then dL serves a purpose. In addition, while it is normally more expensive and time consuming to produce, it can save money by eliminating travel expenses. In addition, it normally easier to be Just-in-Time than classroom learning.
Keegan, D. (1995). Distance education technology for the new millennium: compressed video teaching. ZIFF Papiere. Hagen, Germany: Institute for Research into Distance Education. (Eric Document Reproduction Service No. ED 389 931).
Markley, J., 2006. The Army Distributed Learning Program. Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC): presentation given at the U.S. Army Courseware Conference March, 14, 2006. Retrieved No, 2, 2009: http://wow.tradoc.army.mil/tadlp/presentations/dlcwconf06.ppt
Sitzmann, T. & Ely, K. (2009). Web-Based Instruction: Design and Technical Issues which Influence Training Effectiveness. Retrieved Nov 2, 2009: http://webboard.adlnet.org/Technologies/Evaluation/Library/Additional%20Resources/Presentations/ASTD%202009%20Presentation%20Slides.pdf
Teaster, P. & Blieszner, R. (1999). Promises and pitfalls of the interactive television approach to teaching adult development and aging. Educational Gerontology, 25 (8), 741-754.
VALENTINE, D. (2002) Distance Learning: Promises, Problems, and Possibilities. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Vol V, Num 3, Fall 2002. State University of West Georgia. Retrieved July 7, 2010: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall53/valentine53.html