Technology can be an important tool to bring educational reform and innovation, as well as change current teaching and learning customs. Since the 1970’s, more and more researchers have started to research and develop Distance Education using the tools of computer science and from the 1990’s, internet technology. Distance Education contributes to being able to share the best educational resources across previous time and distance barriers. As long as you have internet, you have access to the best educational resources that are available for distance learning. However, all the research was focused on adults, and researchers pointed out that “the more highly autonomous the learner, the greater the distance they can be comfortable with.” Will Distance Education continue to benefit the same groups of people, or will it be able to benefit an even broader audience? Jane Munro asked if K-12 students would be on the map too as well. Will other demographics that previously have had barriers be able to benefit?
When I was reading the Distance Education textbook I was very excited when I found that the researcher’s findings were similar to my own experience. This past summer I was involved in a project which was composed of three trial classes as part of a larger project for an online English reading workshop, which was dedicated to introducing an English reading workshop for any K- 6 Chinese students who wish to improve their English reading skills. We did some research on class size, student age, class process, class activity and other technical issues.
Distance Education makes it possible for Chinese students to study face-to-face with American teachers without having to actually cross an ocean. On the other hand, there is a big difference between learning in a physical classroom with the teacher and distance learning online. For example, it will be much harder to do group activities online than it would be in the physical classroom, and class management will be more difficult, especially for younger students. We have to adjust the teaching process to fit the online education environment.
I hope more people will have the opportunity to study Distance Education at the K-12 level, or maybe we can combine virtual education into the physical classroom.