Distance learning has evolved over time.  We started with radio and television and evolved into the Blackboard type of MOOGs.  In the process, we have gone from a teacher-centric type learning (where the teacher transfers information to the student) to a learner-centric type learning (where the learner seeks and learns information anytime or anywhere at a pace that is comfortable for them) (Laureate Education. n.d.).  Since this type of transition is in progress, I believe that within the next five to ten years we will still be transitioning and universities will offer more online courses due to the cost savings and to the continual and exponential growth of information that will be readily available.

Additionally, the open-education movement will continue to grow making education affordable to all.  Moodle, an open source LMS, or other open source programs will help educators create more online learning communities due to its affordability.  The only concern I have here, while educators are using Moodle or Moodle type LMSs, there will be duplication of many courses due to a lack of a single access point for all the courses.

In ten to twenty years, based on my experience doing research, I believe that research papers that use vocabulary specific to a topic and comprehensible only to the experts in the research community will be no longer just published but will be taught through an online courseware using a vocabulary that will be understood by the masses.  New courseware builders will become available that will facilitate the development of courseware and take away the laborious tolls currently necessary to develop online courses.

Maslow proposed in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation that humans have “basic needs” that need satisfying and these needs are in Hierarchal order.  He proposed two groupings. Deficiency needs and growth needs.  He later added a third grouping. Self-actualizatoin (Maslow, 1934).  The dimensions in this third need are:

  1. Cognitive: to know, to understand, and explore;
  2. Aesthetic: patterns, symmetry, order, and beauty;
  3. Self-actualization: to find self-fulfillment and realize one’s potential; and
  4. Self-transcendence: to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential.

Our drive for learning are along similar patterns.  Therefore, our motivations to learn, and the topics that interest us, transition based off of the situation that we find ourselves in.  According to Maslow, as we become more self-actualized and self-transcendent, we develop wisdom and automatically know what to do in a diverse range of situations.  As this is the case, I believe that we as a society will learn to accept differences in culture and beliefs as we strive naturally and unknowingly towards a singular global community.

As an educator and engineer, my drive has been to incorporate technology into education.  Ten years ago I developed a Math Scaffold computer program for adult learners which incorporated video tutorials, written documentation with explanations of sample problem solving along with spoken and visual praises or reprimands.  However, since then technology has advanced substantially and I am currently working on closing a contract with a company that wants to create VR materials for schools.  I truly believe that the more people we can educate, the more peaceful our world existence will be.

 

Reference

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation.  Originally Published in Psychological Review, 50, 370-396.  Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.318.2317&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

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