Due to the recent development of delivery and communication technology and the success of distance learning, educational organizations are starting to use distance teaching to reach students so that they can learn anytime and from anywhere (Daniel, 1997). At the same time, businesses and organizations are increasingly using distance learning technology to bring the training to employees rather than send the employees for training. As a result, faculty and trainers are required to make the transition from classroom face-to-face teaching to distance teaching. One of the drawbacks in making the transition to distance delivery is faculty and trainers may not be prepared to function in the new role which is a major challenge for administrators (Agee, Holisky & Muir, 2003). Also, distance teaching is seen as an add-on for faculty in dual mode institutions (Wolcott, 2003), and resources are not available to prepare staff to work in the distance learning setting. At the same time, the commitment to distance learning from senior officials tend not to be as strong when compared to traditional delivery especially in dual mode institutions where there are both face-to-face delivery and distance delivery, and faculty have to teach both classroom delivery and distance delivery (Betts, 1998; Hislop & Atwood, 2000). Hence, it is important that administrators support distance delivery for it to be successful. According to Betts (1998), administrators who show interest in distance learning and who have experience in distance learning will influence faculty to use distance learning methods.
Skills Required By Faculty To Function Successfully In Distance Learning
Over the decades distance learning has evolved because of technological development that influences distance delivery systems (Rumble, 2003). The correspondence system that involved the mailing of print materials was followed by educational broadcasting, which involved television and video. These were followed by multimedia systems, which utilized the power of the computer to present video, graphics, pictures, and so forth to learners and made the learning interactive using feedback and simulation. The current delivery system is using the Internet for online teaching, which is growing at a very fast rate. The next generation of distance learning will make use of wireless mobile learning devices that will allow learners to learn from anywhere and anytime without being connected to a physical system (Soloway & Norris, 2004; Thornton & Houser, 2004). Faculty will have to be trained to function in distance teaching using different delivery methods.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Training: The process to allow individuals to acquire knowledge, attitudes, and skills to perform specific tasks on the job or in a practical situation.
Dual-Mode Institution: An organization that delivers some courses on-site and some courses off-site using distance delivery methods.
Intelligent Agent: Computer software that gathers information and adapts to the user needs to help the user complete a specific task. As the user interacts with the system, the agent learns more about the student and adapts to meet the user needs.
Intelligent Tutoring System: An automated tutor to help students achieve their learning goals by providing content, pedagogical, and diagnostic expertise during the learning process.
Computer Conference: Communication between students, and between students and faculty, to share ideas and to comment on others’ ideas. The information is seen as a threaded discourse so that individuals can track which comment belongs to which topic.
Mentoring: A mentor and student relationship where the mentor serves as a role model and trusted individual for the student to model and learn from during the learning process.
Learning Object: Any digital resource that can be used and re-used to achieve a specific learning outcome or outcomes (Ally, 2004).
Asynchronous Communication: Information sharing and interaction between individuals taking place at different times, as in the sending of e-mails where messages are sent and then read at a later time.
Coaching: A trainer or coach monitors the performance of individuals and provides feedback for successful completion of a task.
Distance Learning: Learning that takes place off-site using a variety of delivery technology such as, print, television, radio, Internet, and mobile devices. Students can be located anywhere and can learn at anytime.
Synchronous Communication: Interaction between individuals where information is sent and received at the same time, as in audio conferencing or online chat.