The Next Generation of Distance Education

Module 1:  After reading the three articles by Moller, Huett, Foshay and Coleman, and listening to the Simonson video programs, compare and contrast the reasons these authors believe there is a need to evolve distance education to the next generation. Do you agree with their positions? Why or why not?

Dr. Michael Simonson (Laureate, 2008) and Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Coleman (2008) similarly noted that distance education (DE) must evolve in order to provide an authentic and legitimate place for learning, and cost is a factor in its adoption.  They differ on the rate of diffusion of DE and what must be done to enter into the next level of DE.  Overall, I agree with their positions, and I will focus the discussion on their similarities and differences.

Technology is here to stay.  The children of today are immersed more in social media than generations that are older than them (Allen & Seaman, 2013).  We are at the cusp of having DE become a mainstay in education.  Check out the statistical trends of online education.  The stigma of having an inferior online degree as opposed to a stellar brick-and-mortar school is vanishing.  Online degrees are treated as equivalents to their face-to-face counterparts.  In fact, Taylor, Parker, Lenhart, and Patten (2011) noted that 86% of public universities offer an online class.  In the realm of businesses, DE as a training tool reduces the cost of training because of its scalability and reduced travel cost (Moller, Foshay, Huett, 2008a).  However, the cost of an initial transition to DE is relatively high (Moller et al., 2008a).  Simonson noted that DE will increase quickly and little must be done to promote it (Laureate, 2008).  Because of the sudden growth of DE, Simonson noted that face-to-face instruction has to evolve and be equivalent in an online environment (Laureate, 2008).  As technology permeates through schools, teachers and instructional designers can work together to create dynamic and engaging DE (Huett, Moller, Foshay, & Coleman, 2008).

Moller, Foshay, Huett, and Coleman have different views on how DE will gain momentum when compared to Simonson.  Moller, Foshay, and Huett (2008a) noted that traditional learning models have to change to meet the needs of students in DE due to the social nature of the students.  The type of interaction (e.g. student-teacher, student-student, student-content) for distance learners is still in need of research to determine what works best in DE (Moller et al., 2008a).  Collaboration between teachers and instructional designers is essential in making DE palatable; otherwise, individuals may not find DE beneficial for their organization (Huett et al., 2008).  DE has to be carefully crafted in order to win over those who are considering DE as a part of the future for their organization (Huett et al., 2008).  On the contrary, Simonson noted that DE would occur anyway since it is near the critical point of its adoptions (Laureate, 2008).

I agree that more people will use DE as people become familiar with the technology tools used in DE.  I side more with Moller, Foshay, Huett, and Coleman in that DE has to be crafted carefully to avoid losing the interest of people.  The content of the material may have to change a bit as it is transitioned from a face-to-face environment to DE.  Regardless if the growth is dramatic as noted by Simonson or based upon a gradual acceptance, DE will increase in its use and the field of education needs to ready.


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Allen, E., & Seaman, J., (2013). Changing course: Ten years of tracking online education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC. Retrieved from

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. R., & Coleman, C. (2008).  The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web.  TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning52(5), 63-67.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer).  (2008). Distance education: The next generation.  United States: Walden University

Moller, L., Foshay, W. R., & Huett, J. (2008a).  The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web.  Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning52(3), 70-75.

Moller, L., Foshay, W. R., & Huett, J. (2008b).  The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web.  Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning52(4), 66-70.

Taylor, P., Parker, K., Lenhart, A., Patten, E. (2011). The digital revolution and higher education: College presidents, public differ on value of online learning. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from


3 thoughts on “The Next Generation of Distance Education

  1. Hi Sanjay!

    I agree that we are at the cusp of making DE a mainstay in education and more people will use DE as familiarity increases. I have a couple of observations that help to bolster these contentions. The high school where I teach held graduation ceremonies last night. During the ceremony, when the students are called to walk across the stage to receive their diploma, they announce the student’s name, their honors, etc., then the college of their choice. For the first time last night, it was announced that one of our students (an honor student no less) would be attending an online university.

    I can also testify that my experience, and the experiences of many of my colleagues with DE, also helps to demonstrate the changing attitudes towards, and the increasing momentum of taking courses online. Several years ago, my principal received her PhD in Education from Walden which is how I heard of Walden to begin with. Currently, there are six other members of our faculty (we have 45 faculty members) that I know of that are participating in DE coursework. Each one of us notes the rigorous nature of the courses and the relevant application to our teaching. The times – they are changing!


  2. Good evening Sanjay

    I really like your response that technology is here to stay. We see technology constantly evolving in front of eyes and every profession is getting on board except for education. I know some critics would say that the reason education is not on board is because of funding, but if we are to teach in this day and age we got to do business a little different. Students are coming to us more technologically advance and yet we continue to teach them like we are in the stone age. You mentioned that students were immersed in social media which is so true but yet district fight against it. What suggestions could you make to change the mindset of those who refuse to accept the fact that education as we knew it is changing?

    • Hi William,

      The instructional designers and change leaders have to make a case that there is a general lack of evidence that the traditional approach is the best approach in creating a learning environment (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008). The education field, at least in my school district, does lag behind on the tools that can and should be used in the classroom. Only the simplest of technologies are used in the education field when there are more advanced technologies that can be utilized (Moller et al., 2008). Aside from a continuance of teacher training with an emphasis on technology, instructional designers have to stay current in promoting the latest effective tools that can be applied in education. Without a strong champion that pushes for the implementation of the newest tools, the implementation process will continue with the old tools because they are the only known ones. The instructional designers have to promote the use of new cell phones, applications, programs, and “whatever-else-new-device” in the classroom by modeling or explaining its use.


      Moller, L., Foshay, W. R., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 52(4), 66-70.

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