#ONLINE THOUGHTS: Distance Education or Online Learning?

DIstance Education Online LearningI can foresee now that for educators to survive the “new normal,” it won’t suffice that you are a subject matter specialist but you are also expected to be adept in the use of online tools and strategies to deliver quality education.

When I started the Bachelor in Broadcast Communication and Master in Mass Communication (former name) at the PUP Open University in 1997-1998, I introduced the concept of blended learning, a combination of offline and online learning.

As a concept, blended learning in the 90s was still relatively unknown.

Nobody seemed supportive on that believing it would not prosper due to Internet connection issues.

So we settled with print-based distance education at the time.

Soon after, I trained educators on course module writing and course guide development and integrated online activities.

It was partly integrated but I noticed that professional development among facilitators (that is how teachers are called) is still needed on two aspects: the philosophy of distance education (which includes online learning) and student engagement (which is crucial to understand to make learners more participative and focused on the lessons).

Distance education (DE) is not the same as online learning.

DE is the philosophy while online learning is the delivery mode. When residential education is switched to distance education, the teaching behavior of facilitators should change.

I should not see teachers teaching and writing on the board for one hour or so and the session is being recorded online.

Student engagement is properly planned with the kind of online activities now available to ensure students’ high level of involvement in the class.

Involvement does not mean asking students to report their presentations online.

Choose the ones that will meet your purpose and assess students’ performance afterwards.

Every Tuesday, I would like to post my thoughts here on distance education and online learning.

Schools are contemplating to adopt a full online mode next school year.

But let us be more prepared to face the opportunities and challenges in this arena.

*Written on April 28, 2020. The author is former member of Technical Committee for Distance Education of the Commission on Higher Education. He obtained his PhD Communication, with cognates in Educational Technology and Distance Education from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. For feedback, please email jralagaran@gmail.com