Distance Education=Opportunity for All?

I’m currently enrolled in a Masters of Education from the University of Saskatchewan that is presented completely as distance education (DE).  The nearest university to me is a travelling distance of one and half hours one way.  Realistically a short drive compared to others in my same situation but still a distance I could not commit to multiple times a week. I knew I was at the point in  my career where I was ready to continue my education and began looking for masters programs to enroll in.  I was lucky enough to come across the Educational Technology and Design Program at the U of S.  It was right for me.   I chose DE learning because as an adult learner I needed to be able to continue to work full-time and needed time flexibility within my learning.

I’m currently taking an ETAD course about distance education that is presented as distance education.  The course has really got me thinking about access to education and how important the idea of “online” has become for education. Online university options, cyber schools, and moocs are quickly becoming recognized and preferred forms of education.  So is distance education the answer to educational opportunity for all?

I recently watched this Ted Talk from one of the founders of Coursera, an online collection of free courses, that helped me to put the global need for education into perceptive.

When I think of distance education I think first of the way universities are doing it through course management systems. You enroll and pay for the course as you would do in a face to face environment but then are provided course materials, asynchronous and synchronous interaction, discussion, and assignments all typically through a course management system such as Blackboard.  I have had success in my program through this way of learning and have very much enjoyed the experience  I never thought of distance education as moocs before and am currently very interested in the idea of a mooc being educational opportunity for all.  I am currently enrolled in a mooc which I will use my completed work and learning as partial credit for a university course.  What other ways have you used a mooc?

I recently read through a few other blogs about moocs as I realized I was taking one but knew very little about them other than they were online and open to anyone.  Tony Bates does an explanation of what a mooc is and an interesting comparison of strengths and weaknesses of moocs on his blog about distance education resources.  There are also some great links on the Ted Blog about moocs that are worth a read and view.

This is just the beginning of looking into distance education for me but what do you think about the move to distance education, is it opportunity for all or still as education has been in the past opportunity for some?

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2 thoughts on “Distance Education=Opportunity for All?

  1. Hi Beige, I didn’t realize you were doing a MOOC too. It sounds like you’re taking 3 classes right now! Wow! I think distance ed has and will continue to open the boundaries for accessible education-geographically for sure but I think across socio-economic lines too especially given that many MOOCs can be found for free. Whether that education will be ‘recognized’ or not is another matter….but does that matter? hmmm…

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