ESSENTIAL QUESTION: WHAT THEORIES OR RESEARCH CAN INFORM YOUR CURRENT PRACTICE OF DISTANCE LEARNING?
The term distance education is defined as "the universe of teaching learning relationships characterized by separation between learners and teachers" according to Moore (2011). In other words, this means that the teacher is separate from the learner. So how can this be a good thing to have the teacher separate from the learner? "Moore (2011) was attracted by this idea of learner independence and the possibility that distance could actually be a positive force, in helping adult learners, individually and in groups, to have greater control of their learning and more independence from the control of educational institutions." If the teacher is not there the learner learns to be independent and learn on their own. However this does lead to transactional distance.
Transactional distance says that "physical separation leads to psychological and communication gaps, a space potential misunderstanding between the inputs of instructor and those of the learner" (Moore, n.d.). Even with a face-to-face class there can be transactional distance. There are 2 variables to consider when looking at transactional distance: dialogue and structure. "Dialogue describes the interaction between the teacher and learner when one gives instruction and the other responds", and "structure expresses the rigidity or flexibility of the program's educational objectives, teaching strategies and evaluation methods" (Moore, n.d.). For me this was the biggest takeaway that could be applied to my classroom, even though "Hopper (2000) found that students who reported a perception of high transactional distance did not think it impeded their achievement or satisfaction with their learning experience" (Moore, 2011). I think because of the face-to-face aspect of my classes distance should be low. Students need to feel connected. In a distance class students know there will be distance but with face-to-face it is expected that distance is low.
Distance education offers a lot of potential but so little research has been done and most research only focuses on distance education in relation to a face-to-face classroom. There has not been much that has been studied with distance education in relation to other distance classes. Right now it is "no more than a hodgepodge of ideas and practices taken from traditional classroom settings and imposed on learners who just happen to be separated physically from an instructor" (
13.3 Theory Of Distance Education. (2001, August 3). Retrieved September 09, 2016, from http://www.aect.org/edtech/ed1/13/13-03.html
Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2011). Distance education: A systems view of online learning [Kindle Edition]. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Moore, M. G. (n.d.). Theory of Transactional Distance. Retrieved September 9, 2016, from http://faculty.jou.ufl.edu/mleslie/spring96/moore.html