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Topics in this section include --
 Distance Education
 Adult Learning Theory


Distance Education  

Impact -- Distance Education has been revolutionalized by the rapid evolution of computers, telecommunications, and electronic learning technologies. Internet-based learning has become a popular and well-accepted methodology for delivering distance-education. Faster and more powerful computers, increased Internet bandwidth, and easy-to-learn training software, along with tightened corporate training budgets, mean Web-based training and distance education are here to stay.


Demographics -- Studies reveal that most distance education students are adults between the ages of 25 and 50, and distance learners are more likely than conventional students to be employed full-time. These statistics mean that sound instructional design in distance education depends on a clear understanding of what factors affect adult learning.

Motivating Elements -- Adults tend to think of themselves as mature, responsible, and independent. Yet they may feel anxious or threatened about a return the classroom, even if that classroom is online. A number of things can be designed into courses and curricula to reduce these student anxieties:

  • Gain student attention early
  • Focus student attention on the desired outcomes
  • Clearly state instructional objectives for each section or lesson
  • Adapt complexity of materials and rate of presentation to the probable capacity and experience of the learner
  • Assist learners by organizing material into chunks (or logical groups) of information
  • Provide learning experiences that promote moving information from shot-term to long-term memory
  • Offer frequent feedback and opportunities for learning reinforcement
  • Incorporate numerous guided practices in the course
Distance Education Resources
Distance Education definition: Charles Sturt University  http://www.csu.edu.au/distance-education/what-is-distance-education
Distance Education - Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distance_education
USDLA - US Distance Learning Association  https://www.usdla.org/
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Adult Learning Theory

Adult Learners -- In order to effectively design courses geared for adult students, it is important to understand how adults learn, and how their needs differ from those of K-12 or typical undergraduate students. Adult education literature supports the idea that adults are mutual partners in the learning endeavor. Some of the Adult Learning Theory is geared more towards face-to-face instruction, but many principles can be applied to eLearning efforts.


Adults tend to prefer single concept, single-theory courses that focus heavily on the aplication of the concept to relevant problems. This tendency increases with age. Regardless of media, straightforward how-to is the preferred content orientation.

Malcolm Knowles -- Most adult learning theories have been based on the work of Malcolm Knowles. He theorized that adult learners have distinct and unique characteristics. Knowles introduced the term andragogy to describe the science of helping adults learn. Knowles contrasts "andragogical" or learner-centered methods with "pedagogical" or teacher-centered methods.


The Andragogical Model -- The following assumptions underlie Knowles' andragogical model:

  • Adults are autonomous and self-directed
  • Adults are goal-oriented; when they enroll in a course, they usually know what goal they want to attain
  • Adults are relevancy-oriented; they need to see a reason for learning something
  • Adults have accumulated a foundation of life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education
  • Adults are practical, focusing on the aspects of a lesson most useful to them in their work
  • Adults are generally motivated to learn due to internal or intrinsic factors as opposed to external or extrinsic forces
  • As need to be shown respect; they want their instructors to acknowledge the wealth of experiences adult participants bring to the classroom
Fortunately, numerous resources for studying prevailing theories of how adults learn best are available on the Internet.
Adult Education Resources
Easy Guide to Andragogy   https://www.cornerstone.edu/blogs/lifelong-learning-matters/post/a-simple-easy-to-understand-guide-to-andragogy
Adult Learning Review  http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Adult_Learning
Adult Learning Theory  http://www.qotfc.edu.au/resource/?page=65375
About Malcolm Knowles & Andragogy  http://infed.org/mobi/malcolm-knowles-informal-adult-education-self-direction-and-andragogy/
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Sharable Content Object Resource Model -- The SCORM system is produced and maintained by the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative. An important goal of SCORM is to separate the "content" from the "system" that delivers the content in order to increase compatibility. The challenge is to make it so that neither the content nor the delivery system relies on the other's special properties to create learning experiences that are adaptive and that follow accepted instructional design principles. S-C-O-R-M stands for:

Sharable. The goal is to make learning content readily available to virtually all members of the learning community. That means the content should run on multiple platforms and be launchable from any number of SCORM-conformant learning management systems. It also means the content should carry information that enables identification and search of the content (meta-data).
Content. The choice of the word "content" rather than course is important. A piece of content can be as small as a single page, a single image, a single audio file, or a word or character. This granularity provides great flexibility for learning developers.
Object. This term, from the world of information technology, implies that the existence of learning chunks or objects containing data and behaviors will make it easier to develop reusable content.
Reference Model. This term refers to SCORM's role as a roadmap to standards work, similar to a bookshelf of reference materials. SCORM-based standards model the learning content so that everyone needing to combine that content into larger composites can understand it thanks to the SCORM framework.
The SCORM system promises to bring together the best of current standards and to provide a common ground for future e-learning.
Standards -- The eLearning standards community is creating standard properties that can be used by all content and by any learning platform. That is, SCORM addresses the problem of creating content that users can play on most any learning platform. In November of 1997, the U.S. Government launched the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative to promote high-quality education and training materials that are easily tailored to individual learner needs and are available whenever and wherever they are needed.
Efficiency -- SCORM promotes online learning efficiency. The initiative is aimed at improving online education by enabling reuse of teaching materials. E-learning content and LMS vendors can get their products stamped as compliant with the SCORM standard from the Department of Defense's Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative. While not an interoperability guarantee, SCORM advises buyers that compliant content and systems should work together.
SCORM Resources
SCORM Definition and Basics  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCORM
Introduction to SCORM Training  http://scorm.com/scorm-explained/
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Learning Management System
Definition -- A Learning Management System is an environment where developers can create, store, reuse, manage and deliver learning content from a central object repository, usually a database. Learning management systems offer a central database and format for a consistent learning experience.

Computer Reading Learning management systems (LMS) are also known as training management systems and integrated learning solutions. These systems have become full-scale enterprise software. Today's LMS launches e-learning courses and provides registration capabilities, automated course catalogs, competency management, assessment, resource management, tracking, and reporting. These systems have become popular because they can serve as the backbone of a company's learning and e-learning strategy.

Integration -- Education institutions and corporations expect their learning management systems be fully integrated with content, services, and the technology platform for managing and delivering the learning process. As a result, learning management systems describe a wide range of applications that track student training and may or may not include functions such as:

  •  Authoring of courses and training modules
  •  Classroom management
  •  Competency & knowledge management
  •  Certification or compliance training
  •  Mentoring and discussion boards
  •  Competency testing and recordkeeping

Features of these systems often include search engines, access to private learning networks, secured managed chat rooms, discussion groups, and e-commerce capabilities.

Note: Course Management System (CMS) is another name for Learning Management System.

Selection -- Selecting an LMS can be an enormous task. It could be the biggest decision a corporation, education institution, or e-learning professional ever makes.  LMS applications are large, complex software programs that change rapidly, and they can cost a million dollars or more. The LMS purchase becomes a visible decision to everyone who logs in and takes a course.
Some LMS applications:
Convene  ·  Blackboard  ·  Lotus Learning Space  ·  eSocrates  ·  WebMentor ·  Training Force  · 
IntraLearn Software  ·  Mentergy  ·  Jones Knowledge  ·  WebCT  ·  Mindflash  ·  SyberWorks  · 
LSM Resources
LMS - Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_Management_System
Moodle: Open Source LMS  http://moodle.org/
Top LMS Software Apps  http://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software
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