Thursday, 15 September 2016

Distance Education: Does it have a place in schools?

Distance education is often approached with mixed feelings with it being a good solution for some students to access learning from anywhere at anytime or an excuse for procrastination. As someone who is taking a distance education Masters degree, I see the value in distance education and am making it work for me living in Singapore and working full time.

There are also instances where distance education is useful for our students. Some students travel for competitive sports and take online classes or are homeschooled. But is there a place for distance education in a typical school with classes every day? 

I believe the answer is yes - if students have access to resources at home and if planned out appropriately. Flipped classroom learning or blended learning environments allows students to learn content at home while using class time to explore problems and answer questions, taking the learning deeper. It uses a combination of online learning and in-person experiences (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 207). 
This type of learning is something we are currently trialling for professional development with teachers. We have created a 10 week course where teachers are exposed to different technologies each week with tasks to complete. The weekly tasks are posted on a blog and class discussions take place through Edmodo. Teachers also have a blog of their own to share their learning and reflect on their practice. The course can be done completely online but there are 2 drop in sessions where participants can work through the course or use the time to ask questions of the two technology coaches leading the sessions and plan for how to integrate these tools into their classroom.

References
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].

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