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Redefining Distance Learning For The Future Distance learning has an extensive history and has been utilized throughout many countries over the past 160 years but only during the last decade has it started to really gain acceptance and popularity Since its inception distance learning has evolved from correspondence courses to educational radio one and two-way teleconferencing educational television video conferencing and today distance learning opportunities are most commonly found in a computer assistedWeb-based interactive environment Saba 1999 Simonson 2000 What we are currently witnessing worldwide is a paradigm shift in the overall educational process This is evident when observing the rapid growth and expansion that distance educational programs have experienced in recent years In todays global economy successful organizations must build on lessons learned by educators and learners of the past to help prepare them for a future which is currently being re-defined I believe that distance learning of the future will be defined as the delivery of useful learning opportunities which are responsive to the learners requirements and also made available at a time and place that is convenient for the learner The emphasis of this definition focuses on responsiveness of course content coupled with format and place of delivery resulting in a learner-focused and performance-centered approach This approach will afford the life-long learner the ability to master the needed skills knowledge attitudes and abilities which will help him or her to succeed in life whether at their job or in continued education The approach to distance learning in the past has focused primarily on course content and means of delivery Distance learning of the future should link together five basic organizational elements These elements include inputs outputs outcomes products and processes and will serve as the basis for the redefining of distance learning programs of the future In order to redefine distance learning for the future it is critical that a tried and proven performance model is selected and then rigorously applied
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