Thursday, September 13, 2007

Distance Education and 21st Century Skills

I was posed this question for discussion in my 21st Century Skills Class

How could the availability of distance education courses actually be a disadvantage to those with disabilities? In a way, is it possible that we might be working against our goal of preparing some students for the 21st century?

My response was:
The majority of people I know in the "business world" telecommute. My father does, three of my neighbors do, and my husband used to. (approx. 50% of IBM workers telecommute). Distance Ed classes help prepare our students for not only a new kind of social interaction that telecommuting brings, but also the self-motivation and time management strategies it requires. I think the issue is in those that are bridging into this new world of online interaction, I think those already in that world (say the avatars in Second Life) feel very comfortable interacting over the internet. It brings people from areas where they might not of ever met each other if it were not for the internet. Internet dating certainly wouldn't be the booming business that it is. But I'm getting a bit off topic, for Distance Education to truly be effective in bridiging this gap, the courses need to be designed effectively and with this in mind. Traditional classes can not just be placed online and be walked away from. Classes need to be designed specifically with distance ed in mind.

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