Continuous learning is essential.
The typical worker will have many distinct careers in his or her lifetime. Each of these career paths or changes will require the attainment and practice of new knowledge, skills, and competencies. Lifelong learning will be something any individual must do to remain competitive.
Students will be expected to have an ability to conduct research, analyse data, adapt to changes, etc. In this way, distance learning provides a more resourceful solution for the student and working population. Its flexibility, accessibility, and program diversity better meets the immediate educational needs of individuals, making learning more meaningful, effective, and practical.
Technical familiarity will have increasing value.
The skills that distance learning will impact upon students will continue to increase in demand — skills such as an ability to learn, to adapt quickly, to communicate across a neutral medium, to analyse data, to utilize technology, an ability to conduct research, and, of course, the ability to work independently without compromising productivity.
Colleges, universities, and schools of the future will utilize technologies far more advanced than those of today. (Consider the complexity of today’s technology, some of which would have been inconceivable only thirty years ago.) Learning to use the new technology will be essential to navigating modern life and advancing professionally.
What distance learning institutions will have to do?
Organizations that deliver distance learning will need to consider these issues and more:
Realize what market and demographic groups they serve
Be responsive to adult learner needs
Prove their value to adult learners, such as quality, relevance in material, convenience, etc.
Take direction from business organizations, and in response, anticipate and adapt to their needs
Streamline the instruction process
Look for partnerships with other complementary organizations
Find creative ways to certify learning credentials
Be prepared to compete globally with a variety of learning providers
Stay abreast of relevant issues in education
Understand that the paradigm of thinking in education has changed over the last fifty years and will continue to change in the future
Advantages of distance learning
Provides for an increase in Access to education for those who otherwise have no other opportunities due to work, family or physical limitations.
Provides for a modality of instruction better suited for certain learners.
Greater flexibility for scheduling Learning-Students can determine time and place of “class time”.
Greater flexibility in location for Study-Students can engage course at home or work or on campus or at a library.
Distance Education is Learner Cantered -DE places responsibility for learning with the learner who must be more active and self-directed.
Facilitates greater learner-instructor interaction.
Increased interaction with classmates.
Facilitates Pedagogic Development-Individual Instructor Development.
Produces a carry over effect into the regular classroom of improved pedagogic techniques.
Opportunity to develop technology competencies for instructors and learners.
Access to global resources and experts via internet communication and Internet resources.
Allows for the internationalization of learning opportunities.
Centralized resources can produce higher quality materials for distribution.
Has the potential to equalize access to education.