Sunday, July 17, 2011

Distance Education Blog—Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

This week our blog assignment was to choose one example on which to focus and, in a blog post, identify one to two distance-learning technologies you think provide the best solution for the given challenge. Support your decision with information and rationale from the Learning Resources. In addition, provide examples of the use of these technologies by searching the Internet for two external resources that showcase how these technologies have been successfully used in distance learning.

I selected example 2, the Interactive Tours-
A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a "tour" of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the artwork on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance.

In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?

Prior to answering the question lets detail below the objectives the teacher would like to complete:
  1.     Students to tour museum
  2. Students to see displayed artwork
  3. Students to interact with curator
  4. Students to participate in a group critique on two pieces of artwork

Objectives 1, 2 and 3:
As an instructional designer I would suggest the two-way audio/video communication of videoconferencing. “Videoconferencing programs provide meaningful, interactive learning experiences, connecting the visual arts with all areas of classroom curricula. Videoconferencing lessons are a great way to bring the Museum's collections and special exhibitions into your classroom—as a stand-alone lesson…( In today’s day and age many museums have lessons anywhere from 40-60 minutes for grades K-12 for very little cost (compared to the cost of visiting the facility in person). In contacting the museum the teacher can inquire about pre-recorded lessons that may be helpful in preparing the student for the content presented during the videoconferencing. In addition the teacher can inquire to having a curator available for possible questions later.

A great example of a museum that uses videoconferencing to facilitate distance learning is the Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of my personal favorite museums! The museum offers several lessons that are linked to Pennsylvania standards as well as teacher programs.

Objective 4:
For this objective the teacher will need to advise if they are looking for a synchronous or asynchronous platform for the course discussion. In the case of a synchronous platform it would need to contain a “chat” function that can support a high amount of user traffic and interaction.  I would advise the teacher to speak with the school administration in the use of Blackboard or Desire2Learn as a CMS, more than likely the school will already have an account set up which the teacher could use. In using a CMS the teacher can have an organized location of the materials and other course related item for this particular project that students could use and access as needed (i.e. promoting self directed learning). If an asynchronous platform is acceptable for the course discussion then the teacher could still use almost any available CMS as most of them have forum and blog capabilities. For example EctoLearn claims to be “the world’s first complete Web 2.0 solution for the wired classroom [as well as] the first true online networked personal learning environment” ( providing the power to network with classrooms across the hall, across town, or across the world and allowing users to create, collaborate, and learn, plus EctoLearn is a free Web 2.0 tool! With EctoLearn you have the ability to create blog posts in which students can respond, a Q&A section, Assignment section that includes completion dates, a discussion forum, as well as a content section in which you can add materials students should review.


Ecto. Retrieved July 17, 2011, from

Philadelphia Museum of Art - Education : Schools : Distance Learning. (n.d.). Philadelphia Museum of Art. Retrieved July 17, 2011, from

Simonson, M. Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. (2009). Boston: Allyn & Bacon/Pearson.

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