David S. Magill, Program Manager
New Port, Rhode Island
24th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning
This brief article from the proceedings of the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning contains a few essential notions about distance learning and self-paced learning. While bringing forward clear distinctions about the different delivery models and what each brings to the options for learners and instructors, it also calls for clarification of expectation and the understanding that knowing what the delivery and the tools can do for you makes ever decision conscious, supporting sound pedagogical approaches and assisting in selecting the best structure for each learner.
- an offering in which the learner determines the pace and timing of content delivery is called self-paced learning
- self-paced learning requires a self-awareness and self-regulatory process - not all learners possess it
- the environment that supports the learner must be supportive of these processes
- theoretical underpinnings about self-paced learning include equivalency (opportunities must be the same regardless of the learning environment) and andragogy (adults learn differently from youth)
- according to the andragogy theory adults will be self-directed, their own experiences with learning will play a great role in their new learning; they must be ready to learn and oriented towards learning
These are all elements that - to a certain level, affect online learning where a degree of self-directness will come to play a bigger role than in more traditional F2F settings.
Open-ended learning while providing flexibility that most adults appreciate as the possibility to fit the new learning in their busy lifestyles, can also be the very element that causes course withdrawal or incompletion, as it becomes hard to remain self-motivated and on task.
Research supports the idea that the instructor presence remains one of the most indicative factors to success in full or partial self-learning environments.
Fitting the right settings, delivery and environment with the right students remains key. As well as setting realistic expectations.