Using Heutagogy to Address the Needs of Online Learners

Using Heutagogy to Address the Needs of Online Learners

Jane Eberle (Emporia State University, USA) and Marcus Childress (Emporia State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch331
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Abstract

In 2002, approximately 1,680 institutions offered over 54,000 online courses (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2003). While there has been a dramatic increase in the number of such courses, the real question is, how effective are they? Are we, in fact, developing capable people who possess an ‘all round’ capacity centered on the characteristics of: high self-efficacy, knowing how to learn, creativity, the ability to use competencies in novel as well as familiar situations, possessing appropriate values, and working well with others (Hase, 2004)? Hase and Kenyon (2000) suggest that our education systems (especially higher education) need to develop proactive, rather than reactive learners. We must develop learners who can be ‘more-involved citizens’ (paragraph 25). This will only happen by changing our paradigm in which we teach and learn.
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Introduction And Background

In 2002, approximately 1,680 institutions offered over 54,000 online courses (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2003). While there has been a dramatic increase in the number of such courses, the real question is, how effective are they? Are we, in fact, developing capable people who possess an ‘all round’ capacity centered on the characteristics of: high self-efficacy, knowing how to learn, creativity, the ability to use competencies in novel as well as familiar situations, possessing appropriate values, and working well with others (Hase, 2004)?

Hase and Kenyon (2000) suggest that our education systems (especially higher education) need to develop proactive, rather than reactive learners. We must develop learners who can be ‘more-involved citizens’ (paragraph 25). This will only happen by changing our paradigm in which we teach and learn.

Unfortunately, for many distance educators, teaching online simply means placing their material on the Web and hoping for the best. But providing online learning experiences to develop capable people requires innovative approaches. Online learning should not mean that the standards and practices are less meaningful than those in face-to-face learning. While the latter may be preferred to some, there are many reasons for learners to choose distance learning. The expectations for an online educational experience should be equivalent to those in traditional classrooms. But that does not mean that the courses should be alike in design—only in content. As Simonson et al. (2003) state: “Equivalent learning experiences are critical to the success of distance education” (p. iii). Furthermore, instructional design procedures should anticipate and provide suitable experiences for all students (Simonson et al., 2003). Just as Howard Gardner developed his theory of Multiple Intelligences for children, providing for differences in learning styles for adults and/or online learners should be a requisite for developing appropriately designed courses for distance education.

It is here that delineation should be made between online learning and distance education. Distance education, in its simplest form, is “the delivery of instruction to students who are separated from their teacher by time and/or location” (Lever-Duffy, McDonald & Mizell, 2003, p. 411). It may be synchronous or asynchronous. Expanding this definition, Simonson et al. (2003, pp. 28-29) state that distance education is composed of four main components that distinguish it from self-study:

  • 1.

    It is institutionally based.

  • 2.

    There is separation of student and instructor.

  • 3.

    Interactive telecommunications are involved.

  • 4.

    Learners, resources, and instructors are interactive.

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Online Learning And Andragogy

Online learning is simply gaining information via the Internet and World Wide Web. In the past, the most popular mode of research compared a distance learning method with a traditional one. However, several other kinds of questions are also proving to be useful in shaping the impact of distance learning—questions such as (Roblyer, 2003, p. 194):

  • • Are certain types of distance learning resources or delivery systems more effective than others?

  • • What are characteristics of effective distance learning courses?

  • • What are characteristics of students who choose distance learning?

  • • What are characteristics of students who are effective distance learners?

  • • What are characteristics of effective distance instructors?

  • • What cost factors enter into preparing and implementing distance education programs, and how do we determine cost effectiveness?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Minimalist Theory: “The Minimalist theory of J.M. Carroll is a framework for the design of instruction, especially training materials for computer users. The theory suggests that 1) all learning tasks should be meaningful and self-contained activities, 2) learners should be given realistic projects as quickly as possible, 3) instruction should permit self-directed reasoning and improvising by increasing the number of active learning activities, 4) training materials and activities should provide for error recognition and recovery, and 5) there should be a close linkage between the training and actual system” (Kearsley, 2003).

Capable People: “Capable people are those who: know how to learn; are creative; have a high degree of self-efficacy; can apply competencies in novel as well as familiar situations; and can work well with other.” (Stephenson & Weil, 1992).

Heutagogy: “The study of self-determined learning, may be viewed as a natural progression from earlier educational methodologies—in particular from capability development—and may well provide the optimal approach to learning in the twenty-first century” (Kase & Kenyon, 2000).

Andragogy: “Knowles’ theory of andragogy is an attempt to develop a theory specifically for adult learning. Knowles emphasizes that adults are self-directed and expect to take responsibility for decisions. Adult learning programs must accommodate this fundamental aspect. Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning: 1) adults need to know why they need to learn something, 2) adults need to learn experientially, 3) adults approach learning as problem-solving, and 4) adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value” (Kearsley, 2003).

Self-Directed Learning: Learning that occurs when learners explore, question, react, and respond to learning material relevant to their needs.

Distance Education: “The delivery of instruction to students who are separated from their teacher by time and/or location” (Lever-Duffy et al., 2003, p. 411).

Pedagogy: The art, science, or profession of teaching.

Online Learning: Learning delivered via Web-based or Internet-based technologies.

Double-Loop Learning: “A higher order of learning is when the individual questions the goal-structures and rules upon detecting an error. This is more like ‘coloring outside the lines’ to solve the problem or error. This is referred to as ‘double-loop learning.’ This is more creative and may lead to alterations in the rules, plans, strategies, or consequences initially related to the problem at hand. Double-loop learning involves critical reflection upon goals, beliefs, values, conceptual frameworks, and strategies. Argyris believes that this way of learning is critical in organizations and individuals that find themselves in rapidly changing and uncertain contexts” (Cooper, 2004).

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