of Distance Education
for Curriculum, Teachers, and Students:
With the advance in technology
and the rapid growth of the Internet in recent years, distance learning
has moved rapidly in to the mainstream educational system. Hence, the paper
will discuss the difference between distance education and traditional,
face to face, teaching and the great effects on the curriculum, teachers,
and students. Each subtopic will describe substantiation for traditional
education. Finally, the paper describes the problems of present and future
in distance education.
Advanced technologies, like
the Internet, affect many things, including education. Using new technology
like computers, networks, and satellites in the distance-learning environment
changes the style of learning because students study beyond the visible
limitation of school walls. Compared with traditional face to face (F2F),
distance teaching has many advantages that face-to-face teaching has difficulty
surpassing. According to Lefoe & Corderoy (1998) said,” Increased
usage is evidenced in studies such us by Fyvie (1997) who identify 51 institutions
(41 from US, 4 from Australian and 2 from UK) which offered either undergraduate
or post graduate online courses.” We can predict that there will be many
school and courses using long distance teaching to deliver knowledge (Onken
& Eastwood, 1998). Although distance teaching has many benefits and
become popular, it still has many problems. In this article, I am going
to discuss the merits and defects of distance teaching in the areas of
curriculum, teachers teaching, and students learning.
The influence for Curriculum design
Like traditional teaching, the
most distinguish feature of distance teaching is to conquer the barrier
of space, and then to convey courses to any place and connect different
people in different place (Findley & Findley, 1997; Laney; 1996; Gross,
1995). Distance teaching also can help students and teachers to share educational
resources, and let the world become a global school. Hence, by this feature,
the distance teaching system deeply has a number of positive on curriculum.
First, it can use tools like the Internet to deliver courses to anyone
in the world and to link to other web sites to add teaching resources.
For example, in geography class, you might not be able to go explore a
volcano in person, but instructors can use technology to bring you to a
volcano web site to observe the real situation and let scientists explain
and answer for students.
Second, distance teaching can invite many specialists from a distance
to teach and discuss synchronously (Findley & Findley, 1997). For example,
teachers can invite a person who is relative with the class materials to
discuss with students.
Third, it also can integrate courses to teach like combining animation,
sounds, and picture. Not only does it enhance the context of lecture, but
also intrigue the study motive of students. Forth, it offers special courses
whose instructors are lack or are far to us (Findley & Findley, 1997).
Teachers and students don't need to travel long distance. For example,
like learning different languages, you don't need to go abroad to
But the distance teaching
still has some problems for curriculum needing to be solved. First, some
special situations are not suitable to use distance teaching to teach.
For instance, science courses requiring students do experiment are not
suitable for the distance learning. Of course, instructors can do before
cameras, but as Greenbowe & Burke (1995) noted, "Students taking sciences
via distance education may be deprived of these critical educational experiences.
Other courses, like music, sports (physical education) have the same limitation
on distance teaching. There is also a problem like above. When students
discuss and deliver assignment after distance teaching, it is a little
difficult for mathematics assignment because it is hard for students to
use most e-mail systems to write the special mathematics signs (Jackman
& Carter, 1998).
Second, the programs of distance teaching need distance instructors
to spend much more time to design distance course then face to face (Findley
& Findley, 1997; Laney, 1996; Greenbowe & Burke, 1995). Otherwise,
the distance teachings might become straight lecture. It also will reduce
the feedback and interactivity between teachers and students.
Third, the problem of copyright, "Some materials that can be used in
a traditional classroom may not be permitted in a distance -learning setting"
Martin & Taylor pointed out (1997).
Distance learning environment
is more powerful than the traditional teaching and more effective when
the curriculum is designed well but it is different than traditional teaching
for teachers and students. Teachers should research how to use technology
of potential to develop curriculum for students in order to attain the
original teaching goals
The influence on teachers
Using online distance teaching,
it is different teaching style for teachers who are familiar with traditional
face-to-face teaching. Therefore, this new style of teaching will form
some influence to teachers teaching in online teaching. First, it saves
time and has a flexible time schedule for teachers (Mclsaac & Ralston,
1995). Second, teachers can teach many students who live in different places.
By this system, teachers also can consult the experts for expertise from
far places (Findley & Findley, 1997). They do not need to dress up
or travel long distance.
But, there are some problems
on online teaching for teachers. First, the copyright for distance teachers
is a problem. “What arrangements have been made to protect faculty creative
rights?” There are two questions for this reason: “1.Can lecture tapes
be used again? 2.If recorded lectures are used for more than one semester,
how will faculty workload be counted?” Martin & Taylor said (1997).
Next, if students who are
not full time students have different background, it is difficult for students
asked the same as background before taking a course. Hence, teachers will
feel it difficult to help each student (Cheung & Yiu, 1998).
Third, distance educators said the distance-teaching teachers should
change the teaching methods used in face-to-face traditional teaching (Wolcoot,
1995). They should avoid using the materials and experiences used in traditional
classrooms to teach students in distance teaching, the distance teaching
might fail. So, distance-teaching teachers should accumulate, research,
and develop the strategies of teaching in distance in order to teach effectively.
Although to being familiar with using technology on teaching is not
easy for teachers, it is a trend to use technology on next generation education.
Teachers should prepare the knowledge about using technology soon.
The influence on students
"Save time", most students said
(Mclsaac & Ralston, 1995) it could let students do and study the courses
flexibly. Students can download various lesson materials and review them
on their own time. In online teaching, students can review the instruction
record many times even if they are absent (Lee, Murphy, Chan, & Chung,
1997). And they also can sand messages stored until others can see them
and discuss in front of their screen.
According to Sullivan (1998),
both male and female teachers usually pay more attention on male students
in f2f teaching. And when people talk each other, they will be according
to some factors, like gender, closes, and so on. But in distance teaching,
this situation will be improved. The students just have name and e-mail
address for teachers and the distance-teaching environment increases the
frequency of students’ participation and discussion. These are helpful
for the female students. “… are more likely and more willing to open up
than in face-to face situations”, Sullivan (1998) said.
There is no limitation on
the capacity of students. On traditional classroom, it may be crowed if
many students study at the same class. Through distance teaching, an instructor
can teach more than on a classroom. Hence, it can reduce the average cost
of each person of education. It will be helpful for the poor countries.
It is helpful to create
a lifelong educational environment for graduated students like adult continuing
education and other learners individual (Cheung & Yiu, 1998). In the
next decade, the lifelong learning will be one of important educational
issues. It offers an opportunity to reach the students who are too far
from school, too busy or too poor to return school to study.
It combines different classes students who are not in the same place
to discuss and help them learn better (Findley & Findley, 1997, Laney,
1996). They can share different information in real time. For example,
they can discuss the effect of altitude on the pressure if they live in
different places like one from the plains and one in the mountain. They
will learn not only from instructors. Due to the communication of words,
it will also help the literature ability, like grammar, of the students.
Because of communicating with other country people, students will use clear
and correct sentences to exchange their ideas.
Although there are many
advantages for students from distance teaching, there also are some problems
needing to be solved. First, some students said they do not like new technology.
Not all students like to learn in front of screens. Some students think
technology is too cold. It will not make a warm sense like the face-to-face
teaching. Second, it also lets students feel they are studying alone and
do not belong to the bigger group (Wolcoot, 1995). In this method, students
cannot talk and see others in the same classroom like the traditional style.
The influence between teachers and students
In the educational environment
of distance teaching, it will change the traditional relationship between
teachers and students (Barker & Dickson, 1996). "It 's encouraging
an egalitarian mentor-apprentice relationship", Shimabukuro (1998) pointed
The feedback is limited
because teachers and students cannot see each other. It is not the same
as the traditional classrooms where the teachers can get the feedback instantly
from the reflection of students like asking questions. For example, in
online teaching, students just look at the screen, so the instructors do
not have the connection of nonverbal with students like eye contact. Students
may not regard teachers as a "real"person. (Martin & Taylor, 1997).
Hence, the feedback is quite different and difficult to do like traditional
teaching. The change of conveying message results in the loss of information
like lack the nonverbal communication, eye contact, facial expression,
and body language. More, this situation may result the misinterpreted between
teachers and students.
However, the interactivity
is the key point of distance teaching (Chen, 1997; Findley & Findley,
1997). When students can participate more, then they can study more and
better. Depending upon the courses, the teachers should choose what kind
of interaction is needed, like two-ways, multi-ways, in order to keep teaching
the most effectively. The method needs skills. Teachers had better accept
some training programs, and then know to keep the interaction most
Although schools can deliver the education through new technology,
this trend doesn’t mean that the campus will be replaced. After all, human
beings are sociable. We still need a traditional campus in order to form
a small society for students because of sociological, psychological, and
The influence of hardware for distance teaching
Although technology is advanced,
it still has some defects. For example, some teachers and students feel
that technology is not fun and convenient for them (Findley & Findley,
1997, Rowntree 1995). Computers are still expensive for some families although
they are cheaper every year (Shimabukuro, 1998). It is easy to be effected
by other factors like weather affects the satellites when the distance
education conveyed by those. (Findley & Findley, 1997). It cannot deliver
courses absolutely (Martin & Taylor, 1997). Although so, technology
will progress gradually, and it will enable the distance teaching to be
more convenient and friendly.
Now, the distance teaching not
only grows fast and attracts much attention but also becomes a trend and
will play an important role on education on the 21st (Garrison & Onken,
1998, Gross, 1995). All educators and students are involved in this educational
reform. It changes not only the instructional materials and the relationship
between teachers and students, but also the learning style of all people
living in the global society. We should think and ask ourselves what and
how much we can do with the online distance teaching. In the information
age, people should know how to use technology to learn new information
and skills. In the future, information should be easily moved from place
to place. Hence campus is no longer the traditional campus.
Although the online teaching
is still not perfect in some situations, the progress of technology will
be accepted and improved because its benefits are more than the cost. We
should prepare and develop policies like copyright, censorship, teaching
and learning modules, and relationship between instructors and learners
as soon as possible in order to be sure that this educational tool will
be suitable for the next century in education.
Barker, B. O., & Dickson,
M. W. (1996). Distance learning technologies in k-12 schools past, present,
and future practice, Techtrends, 19-22
Cheung, B., & Yiu, S.
M. (1998). WWW technologies and adult continuing education. On-line:http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/tcon98/paper/yiu.html
Findley, B., & Findley,
D. (1997). Strategies for effective distance education, Contemporary Education,
Rowntree, D. (1995). Teaching
and learning online: a correspondence education for 21st century?. British
Journal of Educational Technology, 26, 205-215
Lefoe, G. & Corderoy,
R. M. (1998). ”Tips for effective online teaching and learning”. On-line:
Laney, J. D. (1996). Going
the distance: Effective instruction using distance learning technology.
Educational Technology, 51-53.
Shimabukuro, J. (1998). Keynote
why teach online?. On-line:
Wolcoot, L. L. (1995). The
distance teacher as reflective practitioner. Educational Technology, 39-43.
Chen, L. (1997). Distance
delivery systems in terms of pedagogical considerations: A Reevaluation.
Educational Technology, 34-37
Mclsaac, M. S., & Ralston,
K. D. (1995). Teaching at a distance using computer conferencing, Techtrends,
41 (6), 48-53
Onken, M., & Eastwood,
K. (1998). Is it possible to use distance learning tp affect change in
attitudes?. On-line: http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/tcon98/paper/eastwood.html
Martin, M., & Taylor,
S. A. (1997) The virtual classroom: The next steps, Educational Technology,
Sullivan, P. (1998). Gender issues and the on-line classroom. On-line:
Gross, R. (1995) Defending:
The new mandate for distance learning in the 21st Century, Community College
Garrison, S., & Onken,
M. H. (1998). Practical lessons on delivery of distance learn: Do’s and
don’t. On-line: http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/tcon98/paper/onken.html
Jackman, S. & Carter,
C. (1998) From the classroom to the Internet: Issues and resolutions. On-line:
Greenbowe, T. J., & Burke,
K. (1995). Distance education and curriculum change in introductory chemistry
courses in Iowa, Techtrends, 23-25
Lee, V., Murphy, D., Chan,
C. C. & Chung, L. (1997) Computer-aided distance learning: a case study,
Open Learning, 58-61