The results of the Masters of Distance Education Program study which was undertaken by Bernath and Rubin (2003) titled Reflections on Teaching and Learning In An Online Master Program that formally began in September 2000 was based upon the need to widen the teaching experience and horizons of educators via a controlled setting. Such a huge undertaking was made possible by the collaboration of the University Of Oldenburg / Germany and the University of Maryland on an experimental basis in 1997 as a virtual seminar with24 countries participating in the trial run. I agree with the idea that distance learning will be the educational wave of the future. As the program continues to grow and its tuition fees become more and more affordable, we shall see more and more students opt for this home based educational process due to the personal and professional benefits that the program provides.
According to Bernath and Rubin (2003) in their previous case study 2 needs were that were met by such study programs were;
- The need for faculty and administrator training programs in which new distance education faculty and administrators can develop a broader perspective of the general foundations of distance education and can learn critical knowledge and skills in the field.
- The need for a global perspective among distance education faculty and administrators so that they can benefit from the knowledge of how other institutions approach distance education and solve problems, particularly in cross-cultural contexts.(cf. Bernath, 1996; Rubin, 1997) (p. 10)
Our current educational system of formal schooling is in danger of becoming an obsolete institution as the world continues to rely heavily on the internet as a basis of information and tools such as chats, forums, and file transfers as methods of interacting with one another and sharing ideas on an international basis. Education is no longer based on a classroom set-up alone. Teachers are no longer the single voice of experience and knowledge in the classroom. Online education has turned everyone into learners, with professors acting more in the capacity of moderator and adviser.
According to O’Malley (1999) these programs hold much promise for evolution of the current educational system:
Our research indicates that students perceive that OL has a significant relative advantage to traditional methodologies. These advantages include saving them time, fitting in better with their schedules, and enabling students to take more courses. (p.4)
Students these days tend to lead a multitasking lifestyle as the pressures of meeting the rising costs of education meet headlong with the need to finance it. Online distance learning offers students the flexibility to learn on their own time. With some universities offering classes taught by well known professors or international resource speakers, there cannot seem to be any disadvantage to this type of curriculum. The open scheduling system and lack of commute time results in the student being able to dedicate more of his vacant time to actually studying his course materials.
In the end, online distance education will change the face of education. Due to online education, students now have an opportunity to learn from an international body of professors. Students will continue to prefer and rely more and more on international immersion through chat and forum discussions as part of their education. Universities will also see a rise in their enrollment as they tweak their online education programs, resulting in a rise in the quality of education and graduates from colleges and universities across the globe.
Bernath, Ulrich. & Rubin, Eugene. (2003). Reflections on Teaching and Learning In An Online Master Program. (Reprint 2004). Bibliotheks- und Informationssystem der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg. Germany.
Littlefield, Jaime. (2011). 10 Reasons To Choose Online Education. about.com. Web.
O’Malley, John. (1991). Students Perceptions Of Distance Learning, Online Learning And The Traditional Classroom. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Web.
Valentine, Doug. (2002). Distance Learning: Promises, Problems, And Possibilities. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Web.