Distance Learning and Interactivity

Distance Learning and Interactivity

Anastasis Nikiforos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0253-2.ch001


This chapter explores the meaning of interaction in distance learning. It focuses on the main models of interaction that may appear during the learning procedure and centers to student-student interaction, student-teacher interaction, and finally student-content interaction. Through literature review, definitions are explored and clarified. The whole chapter is a small effort to give the reader a clarification and a perspective on interaction, distance learning, and how they are both connected to each other.
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A Clarification And Brief History

Distance learning may occur or sound as a discovery or a tool of the new media era. This is not true, as its origins appear to 19th century. Surely, new technologies discovered throughout the previous century had leveled up and developed the procedure of distance learning like radio at early stages, television in the mid 50’s, and of course the Web. But the pioneers of this different form of learning had firstly used mail. The pioneers of distance learning, utilized the best innovation of their day, the postal framework, to open instructive chances to individuals who needed to adapt however were not ready to go to regular schools. Individuals who most profited by such correspondence training incorporated those with physical incapacities, ladies who were not permitted to take on instructive establishments open just to men, individuals who had occupations amid typical school hours, and the individuals who lived in remote districts where schools did not exist. According to the Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology before the emergence of a distance learning model, especially in preindustrial Europe education was a privilege only to males specifically of those of high society. Moreover and focusing on the United States the best type of education until the end of 19th century, was to unite prospect students in a single spot and specific time, to learn from professors and teachers. That type of traditional education remains the dominant model of learning today. The early endeavors of instructors like William Rainey Harper in 1890, to build up options for all the categories of people previously mentioned, were giggled by many fellow educators. The idea and intention, to give instructive chances to the individuals who were not among the elite and high society and who couldn't bear the cost of full-time habitation at an instructive or else educational organization, was looked down on as substandard training of learning. Numerous teachers viewed correspondence courses as essentially business activities. Correspondence training annoyed the elitist and amazingly undemocratic instructive framework that portrayed the early years in the American nation (Pittman, 1991). Without a doubt, numerous correspondence courses were seen as bad replica for the genuine style of education. In any case, the need to give level with access to an education with open doors has dependably been a piece of the American law based standards, so correspondence courses went in a different direction (Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology). At early stages as it is possible to understand, there were basic fundamental tools to be used. Writing and printing along with distribution was the first basic shape of distance learning. All the key elements of distance learning were included inside a book and therefore book was the main stepping stone for the whole procedure of distance learning. But the means and the elements of the old media like printed and inked words, have a huge significance even today in order to realize that distance education is defined in all of the cases as a learning procedure which the studying of it, is enabled by media (Peters, 2003). One of the advantages that distance learning process providing, is the ability to shape and re-shape, the way learning is transferred. Chang(2002) points, “since students and instructors can be separated spatially and temporally from each other, students are in a remote area” (as cited in Terzi & Celik, 2005, p.54). Despite the emerging of telephone technology had a big influence in many aspects of daily life, did not used regularly in distance learning. Surely, communication technologies made possible to bridge the gap between educators and distant learners and that is the main reason that 1874 the University of the State of Illinois started formally to offer correspondence studies (Panagiotakopoulos, Lionarakis, Xenos, 2003). Telephone had a variety of technical issues in early stages of using and besides that it was quite difficult to create a pattern or a precedent of acceptable procedure of learning. It is crucial in that point to state that technical media were determining both teaching and learning behavior in distance learning (Peters, 2003), but all this kind of media weren’t used at all, both in American and European Universities until the emergence of radio and television. At first radio was embraced from British and French DTIs, and afterwards phone, TV, and video were a substitute in part for the absence of correspondence between instructors – students and for their communication and also interaction, by slightly improving in this way the variety of conditions in distance learning and education (Panagiotakopoulos, Lionarakis, Xenos, 2003).

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