About Me

Hi and welcome to my blog!
My name is Debbie Morris.
I am currently a Career Technology Coordinator
at our local high school. I am a Walden University
student. This blog was created as part of my
coursework for Walden University. I hope you
enjoy my blog!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Elements of Distance Education Diffusion

Blog post
Elements of Distance Education Diffusion
Debra Morris
June 28, 2011

Of the three elements of distant education, I have chosen to discuss the element of communication. According to George Siemens (2008) there is a growing acceptance of distance education in today’s corporate and educational arenas.  He states that this growing acceptance is due to meaningful relationships of communication, practical experience with new tools, comfort with online dialogue, and the ability to communicate with diverse and global groups (Siemens, 2008).  He makes a very important point when he states that learners need to be comfortable with the online environment. I agree with his views. As society has become accustomed to online communication, its popularity has grown.  Distant education has evolved from the beginning stages of broadcasting through means such as the radio and cassette to the current use of the web.  It has evolved and older generations have become accustomed to the elaborate differences seen in online communication as compared to face to face communication.

The following are blog post that share interesting thoughts on the subject.

Taryn Hailstock (Hailstock, 2010) shares in her blog the evolution communication has made from the not so long ago telephone conference, to the live meetings through Skype.  She includes the growth of communication, the types of social networks and the affordability of communication tools.

Embry (Embry, 2006) has a blog post tracking the history of communication. His post is very detailed and extensive. He begins before 1900, with the communication used during the time of the Roman Empire, and ends with student’s current use of personal computers and the web.  Communication has evolved and will continue to evolve as technology continues to change.

In another blog post by Randfish (Randfish, 2006), the negative effects of online communication are discussed. Randfish reflects upon reading he has recently done from John Suler’s, “The Psychology of Cyberspace”.  He references the author’s view of disadvantages in the use of online communication and the style of online communication. Two of the five listed were interesting to me.  These include; no one knows who anyone is and offline reputations have little bearing on the respect received (Suler 2004).  I have to agree with these two comments made by Suler.  The blog posted by Randfish includes his view that these negative aspects can be ruled out. I agree with Suler that the communication you experience online does not allow you to know the person in the same way you would in a face to face situation.  I also agree that your reputation is totally unknown by the people in your online community.
Another blogger, Christine Rand, states that improvements in online communication tools have greatly enhanced her educational experience (Rand, 2010).  She goes on to say that she is able to quickly find clarifications to things in question and while in this process she finds pieces of information that are useful.  She feels that the instantaneous connection with a professor or other classmates at any time is more useful to her than waiting for the weekly class meetings (Rand, 2010).
Today we have seen an explosion in the variety of communication tools available.  These include; face book, chat rooms, email, Skype, Wiki spaces, blogs, Myspace, Twitter, and instant messenger.  Society is experiencing a close between the gaps that exist in the comfort zone of communicating online.   My generation and older generations have watched and lived through the transition of face to face communication to the current and popular online communication. These generations experienced a large gap between the desire to communicate online and the comfort of communicating online.  Fortunately, this gap is closing and more and more people are enjoying the benefits of online communication.

Embry, B. (2006). The evolution of distance learning in higher education. [Web log comment]. Retrieved June 26, 2011 from http://distance-edu.blogspot.com/

Hailstock, T. (2010), Elements of Distant Education Diffusion [Web log comment].
Retrieved June 26 from http://tarynhailstock.blogspot.com/

Hart, J. (2010, June 25). Janes’ pick of the day. [Web log comment].
Retrieved from http://janeknight.typepad.com/

Laureate Education, Inc & Siemens, G. (2008). Principles of distance education. [Vodcast: The future of distance education]. Baltimore: Author.

Rand, C. (2010, June 29).  Christine Rand’s Walden Blog [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://walden-crand.blogspot.com/2010/06/module-2_29.htmlhttp://walden-crand.blogspot.com/

Randfish, (2006). Evolution of Communication on the Web. Retrieved June 26, 2011 from http://www.seomoz.org/blog/evolution-of-communication-on-the-web

Suler, J. (2004).CyberPsychology and Behavior. Retrieved from http://users.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/disinhibit.html


  1. You are definitely right that the communication gap is narrowing when it comes to online communication. My elements of human communication students say the absence of face-to-face communication online is the thing that disturbs them the most. But they admit they find laudatory things to say about their collaborative and interactive experience, a couple of key attributes mentioned in conjunction with online communication today.

    My take on the students' lukewarm if not chilly response to the downside of online learning or distributed education, and their resounding enthusiasm or support for the collaborative or interactive nature of online communication, is that the technology is still evolving, which is the point Siemens so accurately pointed out. Granted, the so-called bugs in the online communication system are still being ferreted out, e.g., system downtime for maintenance, but online communication is light-years from where it started. It can only improve substantially from here.

    Good assessment on your part, Debra, of online's good and bad -- and where we're headed technologically.

    Fred Davis

  2. I agree with both you and Fred. Regardless, of whether it a traditional or an online education, I feel that communication is critical in order to make it effective. While communication is easier in a traditional, physical classroom, it is just, if not more essential in a online or virtual environment. If online education is going to be effective communication is critical for both the instructors and students. Fortunately, technology is making communication easier and more effective with tools such as Skype, discussion boards, chat, and video-conferencing.

  3. As I read your thoughts, and considered the reason students may be lukewarm in their response, it occurred to me that they had not seen the rise of technology like we have and that may contribute to their reaction. For example, when I first took that huge floppy disk and popped it into a computer and connected via black and white text on a Fidonet bulletin board, it was amazing! It was nothing compared to what the kids have today and they do not know what it is like to not have had the ability to do these things. In their world, this has always been available. For us, though, who have seen the communication piece grow from those early days, it is nothing short of a miracle. Do you feel that this could be a contributing factor, as well?

  4. I think the way we communicate has changed dramatically over the last decade. I also agree that communication is essential in a online program just as in a traditional setting. I also think that the various tools available have made it easier for communication to take place and be more effective, especially in distance education. The various tools that were mentioned not only allow for communication but for collaboration between many people in online settings. I can only imagine where we go from here and what the future holds.