Distance Learning Research
Protagonists of the systems approach study distance learning as a multidimensional concept of pedagogy and argue that this type of education is based on the coordination of the course material and curriculum schedule within the computer-based communication between the instructor, student and management personnel (Moore, 2007). In this respect, researchers of the educational technologies state that digital technologies are the foundation of the most distance learning systems, which support and facilitate interactive and communicative process of the asynchronous learning environment (Lai, 2011). Furthermore, protagonists of the socio-constructivism concept argue that such interactive communication tools as World Wide Webs create informational abundance that alters the learners’ engagement, limits their creativity, problem-solving, and competence and, thus, impedes the creation of quality learning experience (Santally, Rajaballe & Cooshna-Naik, 2012).
Therefore, protagonists of the self-regulated learning concept and cultural-historical theory of activity justify that isolated interaction of the learner does not follow the specifications of the cognitive, metacognitive and resource-based strategies in the teacher-centered teaching of the e-learning environment, and, thus, impedes the learners’ motivation to knowledge construction and achievement of the learning outcomes (Bergamin, Werlen, Siegenthaler, & Ziska, 2012; Kang & Gyorke, 2013). In this respect, the paper will focus on the discussion of the literature, which describes the importance of the student-centered learning approach in the technology-driven learning environment, and necessity of the feedback-based communication which considers individual differences of the learners, facilitates their knowledge construction and encourages their self-regulated learning.
Distance learning is described from the perspectives of distance education, technology-driven learning environment or internet-based learning process and is seen as self-regulated and student-centered learning (Bergamin et al., 2012; Lai, 2011; Moore, 2007). Furthermore, distance in this term is understood as a transactional process of computer-based training of the open access to learning with distinctive forms of available resources, training personnel, quality control, learner-instructor interactions and mediated learning environment (Moore, 2007). Therefore, technologies within the distance learning perspective are defined as the principal means of communication, and are used to facilitate the learners’ engagement, and improve their competence and creativity (Lai, 2011). In this respect, the advocates of the systems approach and transactional distance theory argue that the technology-driven learning environment does not respond to the differences of the learning needs of the learners, and does not create the background for the knowledge construction process (Lai, 2011; Moore, 2007). In fact, e-learning tools are seen as a confrontation between conventional pedagogies and participatory pedagogies methods within the isolated learning environment that create learning uncertainties and dilemmas due to their abundant nature (Lai, 2011; Santally, Rajaballe & Cooshna-Naik, 2012).
In this respect, protagonists of the socio-constructivism approach performed a research that justified that meaningful learning experience could be achieved within the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) where abundance resources could be managed in the context of the PLE networks (Kop, Fournier & Mak, 2011). These networks presuppose the creation of the learning climate that generates aggregation, remixing, repurposing and feed forward of the self-regulated knowledge construction process of learners, who actively participate in the mediated discussion (Kop, Fournier & Mak, 2011).
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Furthermore, the researchers of the self-regulated learning argue that the learners’ progress and success are constrained by the time, content of the course, entry requirements for the task’s submission, lack of reliable resources and limitations of the instructional approach (Bergamin et al., 2012). In this respect, protagonists of the cultural-historical theory argue that the needed output of the learners is better achieved through the socially constructed mediated structures that do not position the students as the recipients of the existing knowledge, but rather as the evaluators of the learning outcomes through the process of self-regulated learning (Kang & Gyorke, 2008).
In addition, the research will analyze the dimensions of the knowledge construction perspectives in the light of the technology enhanced mediated learning environment, which is designed to develop manageable objectives to address learning differences and improve academic success of the learners.
The distance learning research is based on the secondary research methods that focus on the data triangulation approach, which combines the concepts of self-regulated learning, technology-driven knowledge construction, and manageable strategies of the internet-based interactions, which help to enhance and verify understanding of the effectiveness of the learners’ enrollment in the outcome of distance learning activity.
In this respect, qualitative methods help identify that ignorance of the previous cognitive learning experience is the main reason why the technology-driven learning environment averts the learners’ engagement, and knowledge construction, and impedes the quality of the learning experience (Lai, 2011; Santally, Rajaballe & Cooshna-Naik, 2012). These methods also help to justify that socio-constructivism approach is an important tool for motivation of the learner’s independence in overcoming of the current informational abundance, which exists in the e-learning environment.
Quantitative methods help identify that Rapid e-Learning Methodologies of the Presentation Video Lectures are effective measures for transition of the life-wide learning models that engage students’ attention and creativity and provoke creation of the augmented learning activities for the provision of the needed output (Santally, Rajaballe & Cooshna-Naik, 2012). Furthermore, these methods help justify that the quality learning experience is best achieved with assistance of the MOOCs, which include required schedule of the course and invite the learners for open discussion and argument (Kop, Fournier & Mak, 2011).
Data collection methods help identify that the Tablet Metaphor, the Lecture Metaphor, and the Interactive White board are the teaching-based pedagogical models, which include taxonomy for definition of the learning outcome and assessment criteria (Santally, Rajaballe & Cooshna-Naik, 2012). Furthermore, these methods help justify that these models require engagement of the PLE networks for the development of the self-regulated learning skills in the factors-dependent cyclic learning process (Barnard-Bank, Lan & Osland Paton, 2010).
In this respect, data analysis help determine which factors should be included in the examination of the learners’ progress and success in the asynchronous technology-enhanced environment.
The cause-effect examination of the transactional distance approach helps justify that the standard academic schedule is set up in accordance with the specifications of the Interactive Video Lectures, which create the environment of the virtual classroom, and have the following patterns:
- The Tablet Metaphor, which has a type of e-book that displays the reduced amount of the text that supports the learner’s self-instruction;
- The Lecture Metaphor, which is the synchronized text and image presentation that allows minimized division of the learner’s attention;
- The Interactive Whiteboard Metaphor, which includes Mental Student Questionnaires (MSQ) activities, as well as the support of the learner’s ability to control the sequence of the lecture (Santally, Rajaballe & Cooshna-Naik, 2012).
Given the knowledge that, these video lectures do not respond to the different learning needs, MOOCs were used to help students to cope with the abundance of the material, which is available from these lectures and the open access artifacts. The advantages of this student-focused learning method were justified by the active assistance of the instructors and experts of the field in question (Kop, Fournier & Mak, 2011). However, such socio-constructivism approach engaged a small number of participants, proving that some of the learning experience should happen outside the formal learning settings when participatory pedagogy helps accommodate multi-sensory learning styles with the help of technology-driven online environment (Kop, Fournier & Mak, 2011).
Furthermore, 470 participants of the self-regulated learning approach questionnaires showed 38% of the response rate, justifying that an outstanding learning experience can happen in the open and supportive learning environment that encourages the learners’ motivation, engagement and progress (Bergamin et al., 2012). In this respect, 279 self-selected participants confirmed that the learning process followed the cyclic sequence of the events that presupposed the development of the knowledge construction (Barnard-Brak, Lan & Osland Paton, 2010). Additionally, the results of the research suggest that distance learning mediated environment should be studied from the socio-cognitive perspective, which includes development of self-regulated learning skills and knowledge construction strategies.
The supporters of the socio-constructivism approach state that lifelong distance learning cannot be achieved with the adoption of the teacher-centered teaching models in the mediated interactive environment (Lai, 2011). Furthermore, primary research methods of these researchers proved that technology-driven resources copy conventional pedagogical approaches, put great emphasize on the importance of the learner’s correspondence with the content-driven structure of the course, and ignore cognitive differences of learners, leaving them with uncertainties and dilemmas of the abundant informational loads of World-Wide-Webs (Barnard-Brak, Lan & Osland Paton, 2010; Santally, Rajaballe & Cooshna-Naik, 2012).
In this respect, it should be pointed out that distance learning process, although being aimed to be based on the creative self-regulated learning experience, should be set up on the systematic delimited piece of training (Kang & Gyorke, 2008; Moore, 2007). Additionally, the discussion section will describe customized individual service that facilitate knowledge construction, needed for achievement of the learner’s success, and problem-solving related to the technology-driven learning process.
Given the knowledge that, systems approach on distance learning presupposes continuous assessment of quality control, independency of the self-regulated learning skills has to follow three-phase model of the learning environment (Barnard-Brak, Lan & Osland Paton, 2010; Moore, 2007). Forethought, performance control and self-reflection comprise this model, which is based on the specifications of the components of the online learning process (Pan & Hawryszkiewycz, 2007). These components are learning objectives, their intended user, description of learning resources and activities, definition of the learning methods, and references targeted on the proper learning category (Pan & Hawryszkiewycz, 2007).
Furthermore, it is suggested that these components together with the delimited piece of training should be included in the Agent Supported Learning System (ASLS), which responds to the differences of the learning needs and follows the requirements of the course-curriculum schedule (Pan & Hawryszkiewycz, 2007). The advantage of this system relies on the ability to build and update the profile of the individual who implements the delimited piece of training while background-located agents observe, monitor and suggest the solution to the problems that occur in the given learning environment. In addition, the solutions presented by these agents are drafted in accordance with the choices of the content-curriculum schedule (Pan & Hawryszkiewycz, 2007). Additionally, ASLSs are designed to respond to the differences of the learning needs, encourage the learner’s self-regulated learning, facilitate their knowledge construction and follow the schedule of the content-driven learning environment.
Quantitative methods identified that limitations of the technology-enhanced distance learning are underlined within their conventional content-driven pedagogical approach that ignores the cognitive learning differences of the learners, provides isolated interaction with the instructor and respective experts, and presupposes objectivism as an outcome of the activity. Qualitative methods identified that technologies are seen as the principal means of the computer-based communication when rapid e-learning methods create a virtual classroom learning environment, but do not encourage the development of the learning skills and strategies for self-instruction, regulation and assessment due to their abundant cognitive overloading. The results of the research suggested that the learner’s self-regulated skills could be encouraged with the help of ASLS delimited piece of training services that facilitate knowledge construction, create competency-focused learning environment through suggestion of the problem-solving steps that occur in the content-driven socio-constructivist learning environment.