Investing millions of dollars in new technologies like the Internet, with the assumption that education will be revolutionized, is the hot subject these days. Self-help books regarding technology and the Internet are becoming increasingly common, both in newspapers and in bookstores. Adult education’s organizational and political problems are commonly referred to as “magic pills” that can be solved by technology. Programs for adult and continuing education are scrambling to adapt to the rapidly changing global technological landscape, fearing “being left behind.” A common topic of conversation is how technology impacts online learning, however this may be a reflection of the past rather than a prediction of what will come next.
Historically, online learning tools have been largely employed to provide remote or isolated locations with access to classroom training. Adult online learning programs have been doing this successfully for a long time before the Internet and computer networks were affordable for most people. A good example of a strong and effective online learning program is Project Leap in Mississippi and the GED on TV. For adults in remote and distant places, it is clear that online learning programs have exceeded their potential.
However, is it enough just to have access to “a traditional classroom” in order to extend investments in new technologies like desktop video conferencing and the Internet? Alternatively, is the goal just to build a better mousetrap (a system that can give traditional classroom-based learning at a higher rate of speed)? Our present online learning programs can be improved cheaply by updating existing broadcast and cable systems. With the advent of new technology, we can instead emphasize on delivering new resources and facilitating new forms of learning rather than classroom-based education. Quality, instructional content, and information resources are critical in this setting. We should be asking, rather than “How can we transport the classroom?” “How can we reform, modify, and improve adult learning using new technologies?”
The term “online learning” is clearly being replaced by the term “remote learning.”
O How does learning appear when it isn’t confined to four walls and one teacher’s knowledge base?
O How can we change our organizational structures so that learners can connect from a distance with more than one instructor, other learners and extensive, easily accessible resources?
• How can we begin developing learning experiences that take use of this new, more expansive learning environment? o
Innovating in the field of adult education could have an impact on the current model. Rather than simply being venues where people go to learn, adult education programs will become educational hotbeds. There has been much discussion over whether or not this will lead to the demise of classroom-based instruction. Many classroom-based educational settings may expand as adults are confronted with new educational demands. A new generation of adults may soon discover their educational needs, feel motivated to learn, and then enroll in adult education classes that offer face-to-face encounters via the internet rather than via the front door.
The assumptions and preparations we make now will play a role in our ability to successfully transition from the current model of online learning to the future model of distance learning. We can start thinking about what we want to happen and making plans to make it happen. We must be proactive in order to shape the future and have a positive impact on it. We shall be forced to adapt to ever-changing technological and educational contexts if we sit on our hands and do nothing. For the purpose of developing a model of distant learning, we begin with the following six hypotheses:
New technologies will complement existing classroom-based online learning approaches, not replace them. Classroom-based online learning methods will evolve, but they will continue to play an important and viable role in the future of learning. Future educational methods are likely to include the usage of new technology. Students will be able to create their own learning routes with the use of Internet resources.
o Learning activities will increasingly be self-authored by students. In the past, teachers and adult learners were unable to customize their education due to a lack of resources. Adult education has never seen a level of access to learning resources like this before, thanks to new technologies like the Internet and multimedia databases. There will be some level of tailoring learning for unique learners in distance education.
o Instead of simply disseminating information, teachers will act as catalysts for student growth. Advancement in abilities isn’t just about learning facts; it’s about making your own meaning out of the information you encounter.
o The future of education will be based on bridging the gap between the classroom and the workplace and the home. New technologies may be able to provide these crucial connections, allowing students to gain knowledge and abilities that can be applied in other contexts (home, work, school).
o Emphasis will be placed on group learning. For the most part, adult education focuses on self-improvement and problem-solving without the assistance of others. Collaborative issue solving is not an exception, but rather a necessity in the world of business and interpersonal interactions. There are no isolated themes or one-word solutions when it comes to collaborative learning. Adults from all over the world may now work together to solve problems online, thanks to advances in collaborative computing.
o Staff and teacher development must be on-going and never-ending. Continuing education in the form of workshops and conference presentations will no longer enough to meet the needs of today’s workforce. It will be necessary to devise new strategies for training and enhancing performance throughout time. Even while technology can help, it’s essential that training for employees be easily available.
Future distance learning planning includes imagining how the world of education will evolve in light of technological advancements. It is only if distance learning is educationally anchored and not driven by technology that it will be successful. With the help of technology, we will be able to continually renew, reflect on, and develop ourselves. Even yet, it will not create a learning community of thousands of teachers and students exchanging resources, constructing new ones, and offering them all at the same. No one else can do it but creative types.