Reflections on Global Distance Education Considerations

Aleta May

Reflection Blog Post Week 9

EDTE674 with Dr. Lee Graham

Reflection for the Essential Question:  What lessons can we take from Global Distance Learning Efforts?

Initial Post:

Reflection Post:

Reflections on Global Distance Education Considerations

Jonathan’s reply to my post this week emphasized that our group being learner-centered was our greatest strength.  It is true that we have sought in every discussion ways to make learning engaging for our potential students, and we have considered a wide range of students our course will reach.  Revising and modifying distance education that potentially reaches students across our vast state is so vital.

Naomi’s post was organized by country.  It was so easy for me to learn from her because of the way she organized her findings.  She defined student-friendly throughout each section of her post.  The course design should speak to the student.  Keep the course site fresh by revising, updating, and cleaning out old posts.  I found myself exploring the way University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) organized their site.  When she wrote about Norway’s study centers being a great on-site meeting place for small communities being a good idea for Alaska, I think she is on to something.  Even here in a village, having an on-site teacher/paraprofessional available to monitor course learning would be a great way to help people get out of their homes and come to a place where there is internet service for the community, quiet places to study, and with shared computers a way to explore the world throughout long winters.

A common theme permeates universities and high schools, it is difficult to re-conceptualize education.  At the Athabasca University (UA) in Canada this means beginning to add in social needs as a major aspect to learning to the point of changing the way distance learning will take place.  Dynamic or reciprocal learning environments that are interactive between students and between the students and the teacher is a change from an individualistic system that uses print and tutoring (Ives & Pringle, 2013).  At AU, they have added in Elgg-based social learning dimension to their courses.  It is a dynamic virtual meeting place.  In our American Literature design class, we have added in Trello as a place for all its group members to post lists of what needs to be done, and be able to move it to a finished list.  Since today’s students will need to navigate new media literacies in the new job world, there “is a set of cultural competencies and social skills young people will need in the new media landscape” (Kimmons, 2014, p. 93).  As I think about this, I think about communicating through writing and images.

As global use of internet learning environments continue to grow, I am seeking to learn more about how pairing images with words is an effective way to write.  According to an article by (506) Hundley and Holbrook, print and digital technologies are “fruitfully taught side-by-side, rather than the ‘old’ being a precursor to the new or being replaced by it” (2013).  As teaching and learning occurs more and more on the internet, teachers and learners alike need to be moved to embrace changes in how communication through written language is pedagogically different—not less superior just because it may use fewer words, but in some cases requires deeper level thinking to convey ideas in a much more condensed way.

When Tammy Posted, I believe I contributed to her learning this week by providing a substantial and meaningful response to her writing.  In turn, she taught me again simply by returning each worldwide digital learning example to how we can learn from them and begin applying this learning to Alaska, as soon as possible.  I shared with her what it is like in our village to see positive changes in broadband width:  I noticed that we have similar access issues as many rural areas of other countries.  However, I have noticed the amount of change that has occurred in the few years Dan and I have taught here.  I believe we got cellphones about 3 years ago.  Our broadband width has increased much in the last year—I can speak to the improvement in much fewer glitches as I give the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test online.  MAP uses about 10 times the bandwidth of what a normal computer use online would use.  I had continually remarked before this year, that I was very concerned that the testing was valid when we kept having crashes!  Does it really measure reading/writing/math skills when kids want to answer a question before the next crash and wait scenario?  We validated each other on the need to reach out more and more to the village and rural students of Alaska:  I am visualizing making online learning more successful in the village during high school years so students will see their opportunities to learn through distance education.

In summary, I learned from the text, research, and peers in this class who represent every type of community in the state about how distance education will continue, and that teachers need to grasp this and begin to apply distance education pedagogy to their teaching situations.


Kimmons, R. (2014).  Social networking sites, literacy, and the authentic identity problem.  TechTrends 58(2), pp. 93-98.

Ives, C. and Pringle, M. M. (2013).  Moving to open educational resources at Athabasca university:  A case study. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 

Set in stone or set in motion?  multimodal and digital writing with preservice English teachers (2013).  Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 56(6), pp. 500-509.

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