I An Evolving Distance Education

Teaching and Learning in Distance Education: Continue a New Era


It has been a decade since the release of An Introduction to Distance

Education; Understanding Teaching and Learning in a New Era, 1st edition. This updated volume continues to address two significant education transformations. One is the evolution, such that it is, of the long-standing foundations of distance education. Second is the role distance education history and foundations have played in an evolving higher education environment. In both cases, pervasive technology and significant social and economic developments are changing the context in which education resides. Online and blended education delivery has emerged in response to these changes. Those attendant to distance education, and the commitment to learner access and independence, want to ensure that instruction remains relevant and effective in an evolving digital age (Beaudoin, 2015). In the “constantly developing interdisciplinary fields where technology has become a significant catalyst” (Bozkurt, 2019, p. 252) delivery mechanisms and opportunities evolve. For distance and mainstream higher education, now seemingly connected in ways previously unavailable, “there is a need to revisit core values and fundamentals where critical pedagogy would have a pivotal role.” (Bozkurt, 2019, p. 252).

Enter the need for new ways of conceiving of and implementing teaching and learning, in distance education, in higher education, and in online and blended higher education. According to Beaudoin (2015),“the introduction of technology into the teaching and learning environment represents a process of disruptive innovation that has not had any truly transformative impact, and indeed, has widened the digital divide” and, as such, “providers of online education, whether administrators, program planners, instructional designers, teachers, student support personnel, and others in key roles are faced with formidable challenges to ensure that distance education and training remains relevant and effective in this digital age” (p. 33).

An Introduction to Distance Education: UnderstandingTeaching and Learning in a New Era is a response to this reality. It is a comprehensive examination of the current education context, where distance education is presenting itself, evolving, and making itself known. The modern era of distance and higher education operates in a postmodern, post-Fordist socioeconomic environment. Thus, the post-industrial approach to distance education is a transforming factor in higher education; fundamentally reconceptualizing, restructuring, and significantly reshaping the teaching and learning transaction.This book provides a detailed review of the influence of industrial distance education, and the current changes occurring through the transition to post-industrial society. Most critically, it outlines what must be part of distance education design and delivery for effective education in the twenty-first century.

In the design and delivery of twenty-first-century distance education, online teaching and learning has emerged. Defined as Internetbased learning that delivers content and enables communication between instructor and students, online teaching and learning is rooted in the transaction of distance education and advanced computer and communications technology.1 Absent from the developing field is a foundation of thought from the fields of distance, higher, and adult education. Previous discussions on the topic of online learning pay little attention to this integration; what reference is available is superficial and separate from the premises of facilitating online learning. This text presents the conceptual and structural foundation of factors contributing to the emergence and successful implementation of online learning. It explains how we get to quality learning outcomes in the post-industrial online environment. This text provides the reader with a rationale, answering the “why” question for the development of new teaching and learning models for a new era.

The content of the book is based upon the research and practice of multiple authors regarding educational approaches and transitions as they are shaped and influenced by new and emerging technologies and broad-based societal change. The premise is that the twenty-first century represents a new era of distance education identified by collaborative communities of inquiry in an online learning environment. The framework and conceptual foundation for the theory and practice of online education emerges from the work reviewed in the Routledge publication, E-Learning in the 21st Century (Garrison, 2016). Research of the editors and colleagues (Cleveland-Innes, Gauvreau, Richardson, Mishra, & Ostashewski) (Cleveland-Innes & Garrison, 2009; Cleveland-Innes, Garrison, & Kinsel, 2007; Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2004,2005; Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Fung,T., 2004) shape the theory, perspectives, practical guidelines, and activities described in the book.

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