Rósa's blog page – Instructional Design

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand” –Chinese Proverb–

Category: 6135

The Future of Online Education

“The future of education isn’t learning about something, it’s about learning how to fluidly adapt to change. And it’s definitely not about going to a place to get “educated,” it’s about accessing and customizing the ocean of knowledge that already surrounds us in the cloud” (Uldrich, 2012).

Being able to adapt to the changing world that surrounds us is a quality that most people do possess.  The world of technology is constantly changing and if you are going to get ahead of the game, you will need to possess a good technological literacy.  The Internet is an example of technology that is constantly changing, adapting and expanding.  Online education has dramatically expanded in the last few years due to the fact the technology that powers the Internet, computers and the connectivity, has evolved tremendously in the past 10 years.  Things like streaming media in real time would have been unthinkable over the internet only few years ago but now we stream media, make phone calls and collaborate with classmates, co-workers and peers, through the means of more connectivity and additional bandwidth.

If we look at some statistics we see that 6,700,000 students were enrolled in at least one online course in 2012 that is whopping 32% of university enrollment (Lepi, 2013).  The universities that offer online education are constantly growing and in 2012 it was estimated that 89% of universities offered some sort of online learning (Lepi, 2013).  Online courses are growing fast and spreading around the globe like the yearly influenza, and the growth rate is 10:1 compared with traditional courses (Lepi, 2013).  With this growth rate and technology evolvement online education is here to stay and will get more established in the future.  One of the new forms of online education, the MOOC, has been establishing itself in the past few years.  A MOOC is massive open online courses where you can enroll in a free class and in some cases earn credits and certificates for a class finished (Lepi, 2013).

An instructional designer needs to be well technological literate to survive the ever-changing environment associated with online education.  Societal perceptions of distance education need to be turned around and people made aware that online degrees are not a secondary paper.  According to the equivalency theory, it does not matter how the knowledge is acquired so long as the end results are the same (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  By increasing public awareness of the quality of online- learning, the attitudes toward online learning will shift and it won’t matter for prospective employers where the degree was received (Uldrich, 2012).  The instructional designer must speak well of online education and not be afraid to educate people on the benefits it brings.

Barack Obama pledged $500 millions for online courses and materials in 2009 and since then online education has grown tremendously and will keep on growing, advancing and evolve (Online Colleges, 2010). Instructional Designers worldwide will continue to promote online and distance education as a valid option versus brick and mortar education.  The field of distance education is comparatively new and will change as more experience is gained on how it is possible to educate through additional connectivity and the upcoming technological breakthroughs of the future will make the online student’s life much easier.  Distance Education is here to stay.



Lepi, K. (2013). he Past, Present, And Future Of Online Education. Retrieved from Edudemic: http://www.edudemic.com/the-past-present-and-future-of-online-education/

Online Colleges. (2010). History of online learning. Retrieved from Online Colleges: http://www.onlinecolleges.net/images/HistoryOnlineEducation.jpg

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Boston, MA, USA: Pearson.

Uldrich, J. (2012). The Future of Higher Education: A Cloudy Forecast. Retrieved from Jump the curve: http://jumpthecurve.net/education/the-future-of-higher-education-a-%E2%80%9Ccloudy%E2%80%9D-forecast/


Scenario: Converting a traditional face-to-face course into a distance learning format

Converting a traditional face-to-face course into a distance learning format

The scenario is as follows: A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.


preplanningThere are numerous pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before he converts his program to an online course.  He needs to decide what type of delivering system he is going to use.  He also needs to design a storyboard and a site map and choose the delivery mode (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  The trainer must also have some idea on what kind of activities are going to be used during the course and how he is going to evaluate the activities (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  According to Dr. George Piskurich in the video podcast “Planning and Designing Online Courses” it always comes down to ADDIE when designing new online learning courses (2010).  The trainer must also decide upon ratio of the face-to-face instruction versus the asynchronous instruction in the distance learning module as this will be a blended training course.

Converting to a distance learning

converting There could be quite a few aspects of the original program that can be utilized in the online format.  The assignments could be used, either partly or as a whole.  The discussion topics in the face-to-face course could be moved into the online discussion forum and made mandatory, increasing the quality of the communication among trainees.  The training manager should make sure there are multitude of resources available for the students but must provide a training on how to use the technological components utilized in the distance learning environment (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  According to Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford (2006), “distance learning can be as effective as traditional instruction when the technologies are appropriate for the instructional tasks” (p.190).

Instructor vs Facilitator

The role of the trainer will change and his role will now be more of a Facilitator.  Facilitators do not lecture the students but point out ways in order to improve learning experiences (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  Facilitators guide the learners in the right direction so they will get the most out of the distance learning experience.  The role of the instructor as known in the face-to-face classroom is no longer relevant as within the distance learning experience the students are supposed to study the given materials and make their own learning experience (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).


Online Communication

            The trainer needs to make sure the participants understand all the technological tools that the student is expected to use within the training course.  Some kind of orientation guide should be made available for the students to follow and learn how to use the various tools online environment demands (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  “To promote an open, supportive, and respectful online environment, an instructor can create a discussion area where students post their questions and the instructor posts answers” (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006, p. 191).  In addition there should be other discussion areas where students can post questions, assignments and  receive feedback from both instructor and peers.  An asynchronous discussion forum  can be used for a wide variety of assessment activities and students can discuss course material within the discussion forum environment simulating the discussion that takes place in a traditional face-to-face class (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

Server hosting

hosting      The training manager should consider a Course Management System (CMS) where he can store all material in one place.  CMS’s have “become the de facto standard” in the online and distance education delivery and are used both for asynchronous, synchronous and blended courses (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 183).  There are various options available for the trainer to consider because there are many different CMS systems available.  Some are open-source or free to use while others require a paid licence (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  It is advisable to start with a free CMS and see if the transition from face-to-face to the online environment is successful, then the trainer can explore more options if the company is willing to pay for licences and more reliable hosting options.


Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for Enhancing Student Interactivity in an Online Environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190-193.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2010). Dr. George Piskurich with Jacqueline Chauser on Planning and Designing Online Courses. [Video Podcast].

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance, foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA, USA: Pearson Education, Inc.