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Emergence Report

Emergence Report

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Published by John Paul Sharp

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Published by: John Paul Sharp on Oct 31, 2012
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07/11/2013

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E-Learning: Emergence of theProfession
Holly Heston, John P. Sharp, and Jennifer SolimanSeptember 2012 The purpose of this report is to summarize the evolution of e-learning. The report beginswith the roots of e-learning - distance education and educational technology. Followingthat is a presentation of two current philosophies: transactional distance, which canapply not only to elearning but any kind of distance learning, and connectivism, whichis tied specifically to today’s learning technologies. The emergence of the MOOC isalso briefly discussed. Supplementing these sections is a hyper-glossary linking thelearner to various web sites discussing other philosophies in e-learning. The report endswith a brief reflection on what it means to be a professional in a field that is constantlychanging.
20th Century Uses of Technology for Learning
This section summarizes, in three corresponding subsections, the work of Robert A. Reiser’s two-part article,
The History of Instructional Design and Technology,
 as well as Farhad Saba’s
 An Introduction to Distance Education and e-learning 
(2008).The progress of American education shows gradualism, though every major technological evolution has always accompanied high levels of inaccurate hypeabout the revolutionizing of our educational institutions. The one effect technologyhas had on education and society in general is that greater amounts of people fromall socioeconomic backgrounds tend to gain access to communication (i.e., how wetransmit information to each other). As technology continues to pervade society, it willeventually pervade American educational institutions so that all people, students andteachers are eventually exposed to and practice a daily combination of traditional andtechnological instruction.
Instructional Media in the 20th Century
  At the turn of the 20th century, school museums were the way many people becameexposed to learning and culture. Museums used films, slides and photographs to relayfacts and information, but in no way were the materials thought of as replacements of 
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actual teachers or school rooms.  As film technology began to grow, so did a movement called visual instruction or visualeducation. Some teachers began using lantern slide projectors and stereograph viewersand many, including Thomas Edison, felt that film would revolutionize education. Thiswill prove to become a recurring pattern of hype associate with new technologicaldevelopments that ultimately leave educators and students generally disappointed asnew developments overshadow their predecessors. The visual education movement continued to grow into the 1930s, with the seeminglysuccessful addition of instructional radio. Initial theories of instructional technologydeveloped as the professional research organizations consolidated and the Americangovernment took an increased interest in communication technology. Due to World War II of the 1940s, instructional media was further developed in termsof effectiveness and quality by the American military in order to recruit, train and sendout as many soldiers as quickly as possible. Types of instructional media include slideprojectors and audio-visual devices executing the first training simulation programs. After the war, civilian educators and educational scientists began aggressivelyresearching theories of communication. Originally, their research focused on theeffectiveness of various tools available, but eventually turned towards assimilatingcommunication processes. Eventually, professionals in the industry would come to agreethat all elements of education must be taken into consideration: strategies, tools and thecommunication process itself. Though the technology was present and used before the 1950s, it wasn’t prominentuntil the government supported instructional television and set up its initial infrastructurethrough the Federal Communications Commission in 1952. The Ford Foundationalso provided much financial support and still does today. Though the use of instructional television did permeate American education, the system was not ultimatelyrevolutionized due to the cost of equipment, resistance from educators, and thetendency of program producers to sacrifice quality for quantity in terms of educationalcontent. In the 1970s, the terminology for the industry shifted towards using terms likeEducational Communications and Technology, rather than describing the field asaudiovisual instruction. Professionals and researchers began to focus more on theprocess of communication as well as the tools of technology at hand.It wasn’t really until the 1980s that computers made a great impact on educationalinstitutions, but researchers at IBM had created computer-assisted instruction earlier for use on mainframes and minicomputers. Though computers became readily availableand widely used by public school students in the early 1990s, much of that work was
 
limited to content drills, typing skills, and writing and printing reports.With decreased manufacturing and distribution costs, technology is becoming morepervasive not just in the educational world, but also in everyday life. Just because thetechnology is more pervasive, however, does not necessarily indicate that educationalinstitutions are using these new tools (e.g., internet, handheld computers, socialnetworking) in an effective or even educational way. It seems like computer and satellitetechnology will indeed revolutionize education, but when this becomes clear remains tobe seen.
Instructional Design in the 20th Century 
The initial growth and development of research through instructional problems (i.e.,instructional design) is largely due to World War II. Scientists from all over the worldwere acquired by the American government to develop fast and efficient training for soldiers and much of our instructional design approach today is based on solvinginstructional problems that arise from performing practical and pre-existing day-to-dayprocedures.  After that war, the research of B.F. Skinner focused on the materials used to teachstudents and the process for developing them. He and other psychologists developed anempirical approach of trial and revision, where educational problems are analyzed andcontent is broken down into chunks through behavioral objectives. Roger Mager helpedmake this teaching approach popular in the 1960s through his own published work.Benjamin Bloom and others also worked together in the 1950s to develop the idea of ahierarchy of possible learning outcomes linked to various human behaviors.
 
In the 1960s,criterion-referenced testingbecame a new, individually-focused alternativeto norm-referenced testing, which ultimately groups students into winners and losers.Criterion-referenced testing analyzes different learning styles and behaviors andindividualizes the experiences for each student.
 
In 1965, Robert Gagné presented various domains of learning outcomes as well asnine teaching activities necessary to meet students’ needs. His work details a hierarchyof skills, subordinate and superordinate, so that teachers can enable students to learnmore efficiently.Formative evaluation was originally advocated by Michael Scriven (1965) when hesuggested a trial and revision process for developing educational materials beforeexecution in their finalized state, as opposed to summative evaluation which determineseffectiveness and quality of educational materials and strategies after their finalimplementation.
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