Keeping up with the forever changing landscape of distance learning education


Published: August 16, 2012 by Beth Wrenn-Estes

Beth Wrenn-Estes

For those of us who teach online we are constantly faced with providing our students with the best learning platform that we can. We know that many students struggle with the technology and the online environment while others thrive. Without distance learning many of our students wouldn’t get the opportunity to get their Masters degree.

I feel very committed to the distance learning community and want to incorporate the best practices into my teaching methods and content. SLIS has made incredible strides with implementing best practices as they pertain to our learning management system (d2L presently) as well as providing exposure to different technologies at the Faculty Institute each May.

My blog post this time though is to encourage each and every faculty member whether full or part time to push beyond the SLIS requirements for best practices and look at the opportunities for keeping up with the latest best practices for online/distance educators in a more global sense.

I want to encourage promoting your own professional development through independent reading, attending conferences that push you beyond your subject areas like Sloan C or USDLA and to also encourage learning (and hopefully using) at least one new technology in your teaching each year. It can be as simple as finding a social media to use for communication with your students or to produce better quality video lectures using software like Panopto.

My latest experience with supervising the SLIS faculty technology survey this summer indicated to me the importance of stressing the need to understand and use technology in our online environment. I look at teaching in a distance learning environment and knowing what technologies are compatible with that teaching to be my responsibility. I want to communicate content in a more effective way.

Many instructors in the survey indicated that the time spent learning our management system (d2L) was more than enough and that they just couldn’t build in more time to learn about using more technology in their teaching practice. However the reality is that the continuing evolution of distance learning will mandate expanding our knowledge of technology beyond our normal comfort levels if we are to serve our students.

In an effort to gently and kindly prod in that direction I share a few resources and articles that I have enjoyed this summer. I try to read (or listen) to at least 4-5 articles related to distance learning education each month. I am just sharing three with you this post – hoping you might read or listen to one of them.


EDUCAUSE Review Online
An Open Letter to Students: You’re the Game Changer in Next Generation Learning

Wired@Heart Transcending Distances in Online Learning (Thanks Debbie Faires for sharing with me)

United States Distance Learning Association Podcasts on varied topics relevant to distance learning educators – (Free through iTunes)


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