Time and space no longer separate learners from their instructors. The emergence of distance-learning technologies, especially the Internet and networking technologies connect learners with their instructors. Instructional resources such as training courses, instructional job aids, reference materials, training guides, and lesson plans, as well as teachers, trainers, and other learners that were traditionally available for traditional classroom settings are now attainable via distance-learning technologies by anyone, anywhere, and anytime. As the growth of new information in the digital age accelerates (Gagne, Wager, Golas, & Keller, 2005), the debate revolving around distance-learning essentials has become even more heated among the academic circles. One side of the debate, represented by senior faculty, indicates that distance learning is inferior to traditional classroom learning because it lacks the necessary “face-to-face” interaction. The other side of the debate, representing current researchers and junior faculty, contends that distance learning is no better or no worse than traditional learning, given the fact that distance learning offers both advantages and disadvantages. The same thing is true about traditional classroom learning, which also offers benefits and disadvantages. Regardless of the debate, distance learning is revolutionizing education and training, along with so many other aspects of our lives (Gagne, et al., 2005). Open any job ads for a faculty position and there must be a description requiring a potential faculty member to be able to use distance-learning technologies. Those faculty members who cannot use distance-learning technologies are truly at a disadvantage nowadays.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Distance Education: Distance education refers to instruction that occurs when there is a difference in time, location, or both. There are a variety of distance education delivery systems: correspondence, broadcast, teleconferencing, computers and digital technologies, and the Internet and World Wide Web. Distance education is defined as learning via telecommunications. The term telecommunications embraces a wide variety of media configurations, including radio, telephone, television, and the Internet. The Greek root word “tele” means “at a distance” or “far off.” Heinich, Molenda, Russell, and Smaldino (2002 , p. 268) define distance education as a form of education characterized by Physical separation of learners from the teacher, An organized instructional program, Technological media, and Two-way communication.
Information Technology: Information Technology (IT) is concerned with the use of technology in managing and processing information, especially in large organizations. In particular, IT deals with the use of electronic computers and computer software to convert, store, protect, process, transmit, and retrieve information.
Sage: To be a sage is to become an authentic person ( King & Wang, 2007 ). An authentic person must have no arbitrariness of opinion, no dogmatism, no obstinacy, and no egotism.
Human-Computer Interaction: Human-computer interaction (HCI) or, alternatively, man-machine interaction (MMI) or computer-human interaction is the study of interaction between people (users) and computers. It is an interdisciplinary subject, relating computer science with many other fields of study and research. Interaction between users and computers occurs at the user interface (or simply interface), which includes both software and hardware, for example, general purpose computer peripherals and large-scale mechanical systems such as aircraft and power plants.
Critical Reflection: King and Wang (2007) consider critical reflection as the theory of reflectivity as used by Europeans and it is defined by Mezirow (1990 , 1991 , 2000 ) as having 10 stages that progress from a characteristic “disorienting dilemma” that uses an experience of imbalance in one’s life as an opportunity for considering new perspectives.
Pedagogy: Pedagogy refers to the art and science of teaching children. According to Knowles et al. (2005) , pedagogy assigns to the teacher full responsibility for making all decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, when it will be learned, and if it has been learned. It is teacher-directed education, leaving to the learner only the submissive role of following a teacher’s instructions (p. 62).
Andragogy: Andragogy refers to the art and science of helping adults learn. The word “helping” is heavily emphasized to differentiate the theory of andragogy from the theory of youth learning. Some scholars refer andragogy to a set of assumptions; others refer it to a set of guidelines. Still others refer it to a philosophy. However, Knowles et al. (2005) refers it to a theory, which has been widely accepted in the field of adult education and training. According to andragogical leaders in North America, the theory of andragogy sparked a revolution in adult education and training simply because previously every learner was taught pedagogically.