As I reflect upon the Walden University course, Foundations of Distance Learning, I think of the many skills I have gained for a future as an instructional designer. The most important piece of information I have learned from this particular course was my interest in the field of instructional design. Although I knew perusing a future in instructional design was something I was looking forward to prior to enrolling in the program with Walden University, I did not feel nearly as enthusiastic about the opportunity to do so until now. Getting the opportunity to build a course management system (CMS), of course, just a start, but exactly what I needed to see in order to know the exact path I wanted to take as an instructional designer. Now I know I would like to design courses for a college, like a friend of mine is currently doing with her Walden degree.
Looking back on the past eight weeks I recall discussing with my peers and instructor the major changes taken place with distance education over the years. Many of the past perceptions regarding online education have changed and it has now gained acceptance for the most part. Dr. Siemens stated, “Many of the people who traditionally might have found face-to-face was primary are now starting to realize that they are able to have meaningful relationships through online medium” (Laureate Education, n.d.), when discussing how people communicate in general. This general comfort level has helped society prepare for the use of technology as a classroom tool and as a tool used for distance learning. Give it twenty years and online learning will be a large part of the secondary classroom environment, and an even larger part of the college environment than it already is today. With the continuous gains in the area of technology, there are limitless opportunities for online education. Dr. Siemens predicts in the future learners will eventually “bridge the gap of comfort because, that’s the challenge, so that they can take to it (learning online) and that experience with it will drive it as learners get comfortable” (Laureate Education, n. d.). If learners do, in fact become comfortable with learning online, then the sky in the limit in distance education.
We have a responsibility as instructional designers to spread a positive message and design courses (or training programs) to assure positive experiences for the learners. As a future instructional designer, spreading the word about distance education will be a major part of my job. I hope to help improve society’s negative perception about distance education by spreading a positive word about it. Not only spreading the word verbally with those I meet, but also, by designing courses that cater to the needs of individual learners as an instructional designer. I believe the main reason some people have a negative perception of distance education is they just do not know a great deal about it. Helping to educate others can go a long way. Teaching others that collaboration does in fact take place in the online environment is key. This will hopefully leave those learners with a positive feeling toward distance education. I think those who have one good course are likely to take future courses with the same college or design company.
Looking forward to my future with great anticipation is something I do often at this point in my life and I really did not do this as often in the previous course even. I see a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. There is a lot more learning ahead of me I have no doubt about that, and I have a lot more I want to learn (as a lifelong learner). There are meaningful connections that take place through distance learning and this course is one in particular that has shown me that. It has been a personal struggle for me to get through this course, to make a long story short, and a classmate of mine was kind enough to email asking if I was ok. This shows the personal connections that are made through online courses. I will never forget that and I will share it.
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu