EDET 674 Virtual Teaching & Learning
What theories of research can inform your current practice of distance learning?
The theory of Transactional Distance is what will help inform my current practice of distance learning. According to Moore, et.al, “it is the interplay between people who are teachers and learners in environments that have the special characteristic of being separate from one another.” The distance is not a matter of geographic distance; it’s the effect the separation has on teaching and learning, especially the interaction between the people, how the course is designed, and the organization of human and technological resources.
The interaction between teacher and learner is referred to as dialogue. It is any words, actions or any other form of communication between two people (Moore, et.al, 209). How the course is designed, the personality of the teacher, the subject matter, and environmental factors, all determine the form of dialogue between the instructor and students. The different methods of communication could be E-mail or correspondence, audio conferencing i.e. Skype, and asynchronous and synchronous communication. Based on the structure of the course, dialogue can be synchronized using audio or video materials, online discussions in chat rooms, or blog or wiki entries.
Course structure is the second variable that defines Transactional Distance. Course structure refers to the objectives, content themes, information presentations, case studies, illustrations, exercises, projects and tests (Moore, et.al, 211). Piloting parts of the course before the term begins, would liberate future glitches, and set the pace for the semester, i.e. how many pages to assign in the reading. Rubrics would be another section in the structure of the course to consider. Detailed rubrics for projects, assignments, or any other performance task, could be used as an aid to assist students in meeting the criteria and monitoring learning performance. What determines the flexibility of the course is how it’s structured i.e., when assignments are due, what pages are read, the maximum words in a blog entry, etc. (page 212).
Transactional Distance measures structure and dialogue in four ways. The first is “high.” If the teacher-learner dialogue is nonexistent, and the learner watches a highly structured recording, the Transactional Distance is high. The second is “less,” i.e. a correspondence class. This is where there is some dialogue between the teacher and learner, and there is less structure. The third is “lower” Transactional Distance, which is audio-video teleconferencing, where this is less structure but a lot of dialogue. The last is “higher” Transactional Distance, which are those courses that have little to no dialogue, and are asynchronous or synchronous (page 212).
The lesser the Transactional Distance, the more guidance from the teacher. Students receive more instruction and modifications to meet their individual needs. The greater the Transactional Distance, the more responsibility the learner has (page 213).
“What determines the success of distance teaching is the extent to which the institution and the instructor are able to provide the appropriate structure in design of learning materials, and the appropriate quantity of teacher-learner dialogue,” (page 219).
Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.