Sunday, October 23, 2016

Justin M. Tarradell
October 22, 2016
EME 2040
The Evaluation of Students’ Perceptions of Distance Education
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aytekin İŞMAN - Eastern Mediterranean University
Senior Instructor Fahme DABAJ - Eastern Mediterranean University
Research Assistant Zehra ALTINAY - Eastern Mediterranean University
Research Assistant Fahriye ALTINAY - Eastern Mediterranean University
The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology – TOJET July 2004 ISSN: 1303-6521 volume 3 Issue 3 Article 8

            Distance education is becoming a bigger and better thing in higher education as new technology arises. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology is a massive online journal database that encompasses many different researches and studies about trivial topics in education, such as distance learning. The one I will be summarizing today will be called The Evaluation of Students’ Perceptions of Distance Education. This edition of the Turkish Online Journal focuses on the students’ side of distance learning, including procedures, opinions, and evaluations. This summary will correspond to each subsection of the original piece, in order.


            The authors begin by setting the scene for the audience and describing what distance learning entails. The concept of distance learning is self-explanatory at its core. The journal piece defines it as, “Distance Education refers interactive, educational process between two people, student and teacher, separated by physical distance” (Harry, et al., 1993, p.32) The piece also notes that distance education is far more popular in developed nations rather than developing nations, as it is a rather new concept.  Distance education can be performed through a variety of different medias, mainly through technological means. Some of these methods includes video or audio conference calls, emailing, online chat programs, and more.
            Distance learning is divided into three different subsections by the piece, which are computer aided learning, computer managed instruction, and computer conferencing. Computer aided learning is the practice in which the student learns using online medias and software that are preplanned and preprogrammed. These medias all have the specific purpose of teaching a child. Computer managed instruction is the method in which instruction is given to the child. This is where the child is given tasks or instructions from the teacher. Computer conferencing involves the usage of different online medias to communicate among teacher and student.
            Distance education is an opportunity for equal educational opportunities for all students, regardless of factors such as place of birth or socioeconomic status. It can be an easier method of education with less hassles to those who prefer it. The author uses this quote to describe distance education, “Distance Education provides opportunity for the student to interact with teacher as soon as he/she encounters need for this interaction.” This essentially means that interaction among teacher and student isn’t entirely necessary on a daily basis if there is no need for it.

Aim of the Research

            Distance education is becoming more and more accessible in correlation with the accessibility of new technologies and the internet. As students become more aware of these new technologies, their ability to use the internet in an educational way increases. The more relevant distance education becomes, the more convenient it becomes. Distance education removes factors like time, distance traveled, as well as any obstacles encountered in traditional education (money, time, etc.)  It removes some advantages that some students have over others and levels the playing field, granting more educational opportunities to all.
            This method of instruction includes four different types of contributors, which are the teacher, student, designer groups, and directors. Students have the role of receiving instruction, performing the tasks given, and remaining active in communication to all parties relevant. Teachers have the role of guiding students, providing instructions, remaining available for communication when necessary, and aiding them in any troubles that may arise. Designer groups have the role of establishing methods of communication using technology, such as email and audio/video conference calls. Directors are those who plan instruction and implement educational processes.
            Distance education is divided into three different types of interactions, which are learner-context, learner-instructor, and learner-learner interactions. Learner-context interactions include the students and how they interact and respond with the context of the course. More specifically, how they perform their assignments and tasks. Learner-instructor interactions include the students and their communication with the teacher. Teachers give instruction to students as well as answer any questions that they may have. Finally, learner-learner interactions include the communication among the students in the course. This could mean their communication within a group project or assignment or if they have general questions and ask their peers rather than their teacher.

Importance of the Research

            It is very important to study the perceptions of the students’ in regards to methods of communication as well as to general instruction within distance education. Distance education reduces the barriers among different types of learners. It reduces the stress of factors such as travel, time, and finances which gives equal opportunities to all learners. The author believes that, “If the all attention and evaluation turn to the perceptions of students toward distance education, it’s inevitable to conclude the reflections about the effectiveness of process.” In other words, if all of the contributors of distance education were to focus on the perceptions of students on the communications and methods of instruction then the effectiveness of this instruction could be provided and tweaks can be made to improve it. After all, the students are the party that could benefit the most out of this style of instruction. It is imperative that all contributors involved in distance education prioritize the perceptions, opinions, needs, and capabilities of the students so that the program itself could improve and as a byproduct improve the education of the student.

Related Researches

Below are related researches provided by the journal

Ludlow, et. Al, (1998) examined the instruction and communication between teacher and student and the importance that it has on distance education. The study focuses on learning through distance education as a self-directed process. The teacher acts, “…as a guide, rather than as a transmitter of knowledge.”
Frost (1998) examined the growing importance and influence that distance education has on the world. The evolution and advancement of new technologies is enabling distance education to become more popular even in developing nations. The article notes that the world is advancing from traditional education to distance.
Borrowdale (2000) focused his research on online education and the impact of technology on distance education. Through his research, he concluded that there can be variations in all types of distance education based upon the different medias used to communicate.
Sankaran (2000) investigated the students’ perceptions about lecture based instruction versus web based instruction. The study concluded no significant bias, as most students choose their preferred method of instruction based on their learning tendencies.
Schmid (1998) focused on the attitudes of students in the distance education process. The research demonstrated that the majority of students are self-directed when choosing distance education over traditional education. They find intrinsic value in being independent and that is the main reason why they choose this form of instruction rather than traditional forms.
Willis (1992) examined strategies in giving out the instruction in distance education in relation to the students’ needs, wants, tendencies, and expectations as a student. It is the teachers’ role to make the students more comfortable in order to improve their distance learning experience.
Schrum (2002) studied the correlation between interest in distance education and the technology in today’s educational fields. He notes that distance education will continue to expand based on the advancement of technology that the world is experiencing.
Jeffries (2002) defined distance education and the differences with other forms of education. He notes that, “Distance Education takes emphasis of dialectical relationship between teacher and student under the elimination of distance and time.” This form of instruction emphasizes individuality and self-responsibility of the student to remain pace.
Rosenthal (2000) points out that there is a direct correlation between success in distance education courses and communication among all contributors. Lack of communication often leads to negative perceptions that the child demonstrates.
Levin (2001) examines distance education and its effects on post-secondary education. Specifically, Levin examines distance education in community and technical institutions.         It is important in knowing what courses are distance friendly, and which requires traditional instruction.
Rockwell, et. Al, wrote an article regarding the other side of distance education, the teachers. The study focused on what goes into planning for distance education as well as what practices and tendencies need to be followed and had.
Jones (2000) examined the debate in American education over distance education and its effectiveness and implications in relation to several Australian educators. Jones takes both sides to compare and contrast the two countries and their approaches to education.
Isman (1999) reviewed the constructivist approach and its effects on distance education. “Students should search and design their activities with their self-experience on the subject and the construct all activities under the sense of instruction,” states the article. Isman places a heavy importance on the impact of technology to the education of the student.

Findings and Results

According to the journal, students’ perceptions on distance education have a variety of different factors, like gender, age, and educational level. However, the similarity across any stipulation of the factors stated before is the fact that students must facilitate learning through the use of communication. The journal states that a major weakness to distance education and perhaps a flaw of students in this method of instruction is the lack of communication they could exhibit. Most importantly, the advancement of technology must be present in order for distance education to work effectively. Without this, inequalities could become prevalent as perhaps some countries may not have the same access to this technology, which limits the effectiveness of distance education.
            The journal seems to use Borrowsdale’s research the most out of all the relevant researches presented. He makes frequent references to the use of internet and its effects on distance education. After all, the evolving nature of technologies and media lean towards distance education being through the internet. It is the most effective and efficient way to communicate and to submit assignments. The internet is what a lot of distance education courses rely on to flow smoothly.
            To conclude this edition of the journal, several key conclusions are made to sum up the findings of the research. First, the research presents the fact that distance education should focus on the content and instruction taught. “…because the most significance relationship was found to be the content taught and the student perceptions of content,” is the quote that resonates the most and sums up this ideal the most. Secondly, distance educators should design their courses based on the demographics of the child, such as age. This targets and prioritizes the needs and skills of the student rather than forcing the student to conform to the content. Thirdly, and like the previous conclusion, the students’ grade level should be considered when designing the curriculum. The students’ grade level will vary the instruction given wildly. Fourthly, it is the universities’ responsibility to update the technology and infrastructure with the evolving world. Without the proper equipment, the students won’t be able to learn properly. Finally, to the universities or school which are not familiar with distance education and all its operations, specialized training will be provided to spread distance education.

1)      According to the article, what are the three different types of interactions involved in distance education?
Learner-content, learner-instructor, and learner-learner
2)      According to the article, what are the four different contributors involved in distance education?
Teachers, students, designer groups, and directors.
3)      According to the article, what are the three subsections of distance learning?

Computer aided learning, computer managed instruction, and computer conferencing

4)      What did Ludlow conclude in his research about distance education?

Ludlow examined the instruction and communication between teacher and student and the importance that it has on distance education

5)      Is the following statement true or false: Distance education removes or reduces all barriers present among all types of learners?