Distance Learning Scenario

Hi all!  This week we will be considering the needs and requirements of the learning context presented and which technologies could provide solutions in each situation through an instructional designer perspective.  Would you do anything differently?

Example 2: Interactive Tours

A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?

The high school students and history teacher might have access to a book that has some art work of a certain time period.  Turning the pages of the book might not interest the students if this is an established routine.  Instead, the teacher wants to grab the students’ interest by presenting the material with an added “coolness” factor.  The teacher wants to include interactivity, so the students can do something other than read the book.  The teacher wants a curator to discuss the art work.  Lastly, the teacher wants an environment where the students can interact in an asynchronous and/or synchronous manner.  Since the example does not have a deadline to complete the project, the instructional designer can consider taking the time to make the learning experience with asynchronous tools, which allows the product to be reproducible for other classes as well at a higher initial cost (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009).  The initial class production might be costly, but subsequent classes thereafter may use similar resources that lower the cost of production (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008).

Virtual Museum Tour Concept Map

Virtual Museum Tour Concept Map


Live curator for this class, and the option to record the dialogue

After considering some of the tools that the students can utilize the teacher’s needs, I would advise that a flash animated site be developed that includes an interactive click-through and audio or video narration with subtitles.  If a live curator were used via Skype, a webcam, or through a chat room, the material would not be reproducible for other classes to use.  Instead of asking a live curator to speak to the class, the curator could be asked to read a script to make a prerecorded video.  The prerecorded video can be played to other classes.  Lastly, another option is to have the live curator speak to the class and have the session recorded for future use by integrating the snippets of the conversation into a flash animated site.  The last item would meet the teacher’s need of having a live curator speak with the class and also allow for future reproduction.

Interactivity by pictures, a tour, or flash-based

Interactivity is provided when the live curator is speaking to the students.  Students can also be shown pictures with pre-delivered copies from the museum either in physical or digital form.  Preferably, the curator is able to carry around the broadcasting equipment from one area of the museum to the next.  Being shown pictures and having a person walk around with the equipment might not add the “coolness” factor that the teacher was looking for.  I would recommend that the pictures be given ahead of time and placed into a flash click-through format where students are able to read the subtitles and seek the curator for more information on the spot.

Student interaction by discussion boards

Students can be tasked to leave comments on discussion boards.  Discussion boards are flexible tools that can be used to assess the students’ knowledge on the activity (Simonson et al., 2009).  Depending on the volume of material, students can be asked to view a picture and leave a discussion post per picture or on a set of pictures.  The discussion should have rules to follow (e.g. netiquette, grading rubrics, and instructions).  Consequences of plagerism should be placed as part of the rules to follow and some system of detection should be put in place (Simonson et al., 2009).

The two examples on the concept map offer different approaches on providing a virtual tool to experience a virtual museum tour.  Albright-Knox has an awesome Artgame for students at http://kids.albrightknox.org/index.html.  Students are able to view different art work through a flash click-through and are presented with a subtitle for each picture.  The directions are very clear as what to do next.  The only inclusions I would do to this idea for the teacher is to include a discussion board and probably throw in a few video clips of a curator explaining the art work.  What are your thoughts on the Artgame approach?  Would you improve upon it?  What would you do differently?

Another virtual art museum is by The National Gallery of Art-Online Tour and can be viewed at http://www.nga.gov/onlinetours/index.shtm.  This gallery has videos of curators and podcasts for students to view as well as pictures of various art work.  Though, the online tour is nothing more than a standard web page with a picture and wordy content.  What I do like about this site is its ordered navigation links and various categories.  This site could be used in conjunction with a discussion board by having students research topics on this site.  This site would be easier to produce, but it is lacking in its interactivity in terms of drawing in the attention of students.  I would convert the lengthy text into audio for the students to listen to, create picture transitions to along with the audio, put in video from the curator within the presentation, and have a discussion attached to each topic.

Albright-Knox Artgames (2001).  Albirght-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.  Retrieved from http://kids.albrightknox.org/index.html.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75.

National Gallery of Art-Online Tour (2011).  National Gallery of Art.  Retrieved from http://www.nga.gov/onlinetours/index.shtm.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.


Distance Learning

Distance Learning Concept Map

Distance Learning Concept Map

Distance learning in the 1800s consisted of letter correspondence that was delivered from an institution to the student through the postal service (Tracey & Richey, 2005).  With the advent of online computing, we now have online instructing, which is a form of distance learning.  Distance learning can be defined as an “institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009, p. 32).  Distance learning has also been defined as, “an instructional delivery system that allows students to participate in an educational opportunity without being physically present in the same location as the instructor” ((Johnson & Aragon, 2003, p. 31).  The definitions may change over time, but the key features of distance learning are receiving an education and the physical separation of learner and teacher, either by geographic conditions or time.  Prior to this week, my definition of distance learning was taking online courses.  I had no idea that distance learning occurred during the 1800s.

Distance learning has tremendously been impacted by the development of the Internet and improvement of technologies that support online environments.  As more bandwidth is available, the quality of videos would improve.  Likewise, as new technologies are developed, there will be diverse methods of telecommunicating.  As more educators are trained in using such technology, the landscape of education will change.  I envision instructional designers (ID) making the courses while the instructor provides the pedagogy and content.

Instructional technology is often using the traditional methods of information delivery.  While television sets and online videos have the potential to alter the way people receive an education, the technology simply presents a talking head that passes information to the student.  Online courses are similarly equivalent to their face-to-face counterparts.  The instructor presents information, the students assimilate the information, and the knowledge is tested on an exam.

Halo and the Call of Duty series have tons of players online via PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.  All the players have learned what routes to take in the game, what guns to use in their current disposition, the weaknesses of bosses, and what glitches have been found.  Gamers are motivated to learn!  These gamers so motivated, that they also post their gaming success online on YouTube.  Likewise, ID should incorporate game play into the online environment.  I am hoping that the definition of distance learning also takes into consideration the motivational needs of the learners.

As an educator teaching chemistry, I perceive the potential benefits of distance learning to be the following: classes are reproducible at a lower expense once the class is formed, classes are scalable, allows for classes to be taught across geological locations, access to the classroom can be done synchronously and asynchronously, pacing can be determined by the student’s level of competence, group interactions can be enhanced, and evaluation tools/modules can be easily implemented (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008;Simonson et al., 2009; Tracey et al., 2005).  However, distance learning should not be used in all instances.  I cannot imagine how students are to conduct labs without proper lab materials.  Asking students to carryout fractional distillation or titrations at home without having chemicals such as KHP (Potassium hydrogen phthalate) would definitely be challenging!


Johnson, S. D., & Aragon, S. R. (2003). An instructional strategy framework for online learning environments. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (100), 31-43. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Tracey, M., & Richey, R. (2005). The evolution of distance education. Distance Learning, 2(6), 17–21.