Where Distance Learning is Headed and What You Need to Do to Prepare

Terrance Harrington
Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Distance learning has changed greatly since the early days of correspondence courses. No longer do we need to rely upon slow mail to interact with non-local learners. For a couple of decades now we have relied more and more upon online learning management systems (LMS)  to organize our distance education efforts. Indeed, reliance upon an LMS has forced us into commitments that may limit what we are able to do as change approaches.  Some of the transitions that are ahead of us may be uncomfortable. K-12 and higher education are not ready for those changes, because some future demands may be beyond our ability to meet, as our current situation stands. But we must be ready to meet them nonetheless. In this presentation, we will look briefly at where we’ve been in distance education, where we are now and where it appears we are headed.  We’ll look at the changes from demographical, pedagogical, technological, economical and logistical perspectives and we’ll consider prudent courses of action for preparation.