Is Digital Age “A Tsunami” for Distance Education?: Functional Roles of Scaffolding and Meta-Communication in Digital Learning Environment

Is Digital Age “A Tsunami” for Distance Education?: Functional Roles of Scaffolding and Meta-Communication in Digital Learning Environment

Ugur Demiray (Anadolu University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1692-7.ch009


A popular question between academics is quite discussing about “is digital age really a “TSUNAMI” for distance education field and distance educators? Up to now distance education by usage of high and digital technology has been taken in every level of education and learning environments, it creates almost limitless platform of opportunities better than face to face learning at any level of learning environment specially a digital one. Mostly, the result of the discussion on digital age is regarded a kind of “Tsunami” that changed the phase of education, especially distance education and effected learning environment in the 21st century. This paper looks into the impact and the types of evidence that are generated across initiatives, organizations and individuals in order to make a summative analysis and it has recommendations from point of functional roles of scaffolding and meta-communication perspective within digital learning environment aspect.
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As we rapidly approach the next millennium, the role of educators at all levels of instruction is undergoing profound changes. While much attention is given to instructional technology, we have not yet fully discerned how technology will, and already is, impacting learning, and thus dramatically affecting teaching. Since this is how many professionals earn their living, how they gain a certain measure of personal satisfaction and collegial recognition, and presumably want to continue to do so, it would seem student to examine and understand how and why the changing role of educators due to digital progress in education and what teachers might do to acclimate themselves to this new academic milieu.

Contributing to no small extent to the dramatic transformation of the teaching-learning environment are the students themselves. Students have been brought up in a digital age – one in which their lives are filled with products and services reminiscent of a digital tsunami at an increasingly younger age. In other words, they are exposed to the interactive format of multi-media; that is replacing the more passive relationships with television. Thus, they are more active participants in the shift from broadcast to interactive learning than most of their faculty, subsequently, many of whom come from an era of entertainment and education now may seem disturbing archaic.

Today students prefer to discover than to be taught (John, 2013), to create personalized curriculum rather than accept one that is prescriptive in content, format and delivery. This approach, “thousands” or “millions”- around the world, is being referred to as the Virtual Campus (it also gets labeled as distance ed, distal ed, distributive ed, digital ed, mediated ed, external ed, etc.). Handford (2011) mentioned in her column that titled as “Don't Lecture Me: Rethinking the Way College Students Are Taught”, …”Before printing, it was very difficult to create books, and so someone would read the books to everybody who would copy them down,” says Joe Redish, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland. He points out that the word “lecture” comes from the Latin word meaning “to read” Redish is trying to change the way college students are taught. He says lecturing has never been an effective teaching method, and now that information is so easily accessible, lecturing is a waste of time. “With modern technology, if all there is lectures, we don't need faculty to do it,” Redish says. “Get 'em to do it once, put it on the web, and fire the faculty.” Lecturing is also known as a one way presentations, from teacher to the student with an oral presentation intended to present information or teach people about a particular subject. If the conditions were the same as the mid 1950’s this would be one of the best ways to the taught.

However, in this technological age, learners took up learning on their side. Meanwhile the training needs are growing like a snowball due to new skills needs because of the big data and the knowledge burst that brought increasingly served by free online educational materials and systems upcoming on with an incredible speed like MOOC’s and YouTube Education Channel. Two reasons dominate this change the first one and the foremost is new learning trends, the second is wide technology use in daily lives and trends to use that technology.

Regarding the costs of sustainable educational online tools, instruments and trainings materials, technology developers and related stakeholders look for new ways of delivering courses and propose promptly new solutions to public, private institutions and to the business world. New solutions of the problems with education, or massive training needs to encourage learning tools and technologies to move to cloud, to share as much as possible educational contents, products tools and services. However at this point we are confronted by social, cultural linguistic, administrative and services related barriers. Technology-based education developed into a fully-fledged sub-branch with notable financial gains for service providers. With its own lateral sub brunch and financial resources, requiring meta solutions given the number of a potential development, management, hosting, certification, security and backup related costs (Demiray & Ozkan, 2012).

Figure 1.

Trends, technologies and challenges for European schools over the next five years

Source: Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada et al., 2014. Horizon Report Europe: 2014 Schools Edition. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, & Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

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