Diffusion of Distance Education – Collaborative Interaction

Posted By: Cecil Mittoo(EDUC-7102-2)

Global collaboration/ Distant Education

Dr. George Siemens on the future of distant education looked at the practical dimensions of communication technology, and how it has evolved with people comfort, and acceptance for use. The technological age has transformed how we appreciate diverse communication tools. As people use new technology that enables not only sound quality but include pictures and videos they become experienced with the tool that they can rely on and depend on its use at any moment and time. Everyone is becoming more aware of potential technology for instant interaction and sharing of information. Time and space comes together with hand held communication devices with digital format. The new innovations of technology enable meaningful first time discussion even though individuals may be separated by geographical boundaries. Once the communicating language of people is understood the cultural diverse gap can be bridged without even recognizing differences in social factors.

Dr. Siemens has identified three main areas relevant for distant education. These include global diversity, communication and collaborative interaction. The educational model will be shaped around the tools that we build our communication experience around. This allows for greater appreciation and acceptance of distant education. I do agree with Dr. Siemens on these three areas that distant education will utilize to create an identity of its own; away from face to face interaction that is unique to traditional education.

Dr. Siemens believes technology makes global diversity, “global default,” which   breaks boundaries to link global communities.  Learners in small groups or individuals at his or her home can feel undeterred by social boundaries, belief, and cultural norms.

I believe new communication technology is transforming the society for accepting the merits of online education.  Distant education is an acceptable way for furthering education and knowledge building for people who are unable to attend the traditional college.

Collaborative interaction in business and the corporate world accomplishes better understanding with audio and pictures. The use of video (web-cam) gives a feeling of being in the same place sharing and defining meaning through observation of one another in shared understanding. Dr. Siemens points to a to growing shift of distant education known as the “triple helix model”  which involves university, businesses and government coming together in a strand of interaction to prepare online education scholars. Dr. Siemens elicits that with people gaining more experience with online tools, there will be greater acceptance of distant education. He thinks that interacting which is undeterred by geographical boundary is another feature of accepting the global dimension of distant education.

I support collaborative interaction as a significant principle of learning and co knowledge building for online education. Jacob Morgan (Blog, 2011) thinks that collaborating is at the core of human dynamics that is not just surfacing with new technology. Morgan said that Mattesich et al. identified in their book twenty success features of collaborating.

The environment should hold favorable social and political climate, with a history of quality support for its members.

The members must demonstrate characteristic to show respect and flexibility for compromise.

Process and structured enables guidelines that members will have for outcome and responsibility for success.

Communication must be linked with relationship, transparency and frequency.

A purpose that is shared understanding by all which is attainable and sees success.

Resources established as financial, people, time and material.

What makes these factors intriguing to Morgan was that these variables for collaboration were identified before the onset of modern technology. Hence he sees collaboration as foundation for interacting, and also to be used for further process development and interaction.

Collaborative interaction suggests digital communication that is also applied in traditional learning. Traditional learning is expanding its horizon with technology to reduce the load that books cause for students in K-12, and also the use of technology in the classroom is a means of having information at your fingertips.

Carolyn Foote (Blog, 2010) said “Students and teachers both are exploring ways to interact paperlessly.”  Carolyn saw the i-pad as an appropriate technology that both teachers and students can take with them anywhere and have an abundance of technology. I believe Carolyn has made very important observation of the convenience and educational value offered by the i-pad

Carolyn identified four paperless advantages to include assignments in and out, projects and documents paper free, and electronic reporting of performance to students. E-books accessing for reading skills development is readily available. Communication was a major achievement for use of the i-pad. The i-pad was seen as a communication link and tool for other schools and learning institutions. It was used to bring together staff and students in problem sharing and solving and also as an empowering tool for building a learning community at school. The thought of “out of the box” learning surfaced as the i-pad brings in “external learning” that could redefine the curriculum and learning technology.

I believe the learning technology with the i-pad in the traditional educational setting will also help to shape distant education. Collaborative interaction holds no boundary for traditional education and distant education. This is an example of how technology transcends system boundaries to facilitate instructional and learning needs.  The elements of collaborative interaction and facilitation for learning have evolved inside and out from the classroom where cooperative learning was the learning technology for Constructivist learning to build co knowledge that later transfers to cognitive development. Collaborative interaction has been enhanced with not only clear audio but also to include pictures and live video via web cam and portable video attachment. Gaming technology that is created with user friendly software facilitates multiple players and higher order thinking skills. Broad band technology enables collaborative interaction is possible anywhere at any time with sophisticated small technology. The diverse social networking has allowed learning technology to be available on Wiki which can be setup through security web features. The internet and web browsers has enabled social network such as Skype, Facebook, YouTube, School tube, My-space and others to both set a model for distant education collaborative interaction and lead to greater acceptance of distant learning.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2008). The Future of Distant Education                        [Dr. George Siemens’ Video Presentation]. Available from: http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5260641&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=4769372&ClientNodeID=984645&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Morgan, J. (2011). The Twenty Success Factors of Collaboration. Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.cloudave.com/15140/the-twenty-success-factors-of-collaboration/

Foote, C. (2010). Not So Distant Future. Collaborating with i-Pads in the classroom October 27th, 2010 • 3 Comments • Web 2.0 Retrieved from: http://futura.edublogs.org/2011/09/03/ipads-and-paperless-possibilities/


3 thoughts on “Diffusion of Distance Education – Collaborative Interaction

  1. weave1 on October 4, 2011 at 4:34 am said:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Hello Cecil. I see my last comment took and stayed this time. That is good because I lost the last one. Anyhow, about your Blog post. Lot’s of good stuff in there. I especially am attracted to when you express that time and space comes together with mobile technology devices. Isin’t it exciting with the iDevices that are out there and improving annually? The iPad 2 especially has raised many eyebrows to the capabilities it offers but I fear there is much to do to make these tablet devices successful in education. The downloadable software seems to be there with wikis and blogs and such for collaboration efforts but I feel the hardware has some catching up to do to really make the impactful diffusion technologists are hoping for. Not to mention they need to get cheaper, which like most devices would seem to be inevitable. Many of the pilot programs going on right now are lackluster for how this tablet could be used for communications and collaborations. I think they are more suited for the corporate world and not as much for education, but I am optimistic that will eventually change.

    Besides this, I feel these new devices are somewhat capable of opening up opportunities for all diversified learners in K-12 education and I am excited to see what the next 10 years will bring to the table. We all know that it is high time we level the playing fields for young learners not just in America, but world wide. It would sure be nice to get some infrastructure going in the K-12 world rather than depending just on teachers to supply technology avenues for inquiry based learning. If you were to predict the mobile device future (next five years) in education, what avenues could educators (teachers like you and I) take to step-up the infusion process?

    • Hi Tim,

      I believe we have to keep abreast of technology development for the future. We do have a challenge, and we are the change agents for the 21st century technology adaptation in the k-12 system. I believe we will have to become members of the professional technology organization in order to become knowledgeable of tried and proven innovations. This I am working on to select at least two for membership.

      I like asynchronous learning style, the virtual classroom that can be set up within the classroom, and the Wiki technology that seems to relate to co-construction of knowledge for the constructivist learning style.

      There are several technologies that are appealing to learners at all age. And once the appreciation gap is closed then we know that it’s time to look beyond the class room for the innovations that will drive 21st century learning. My greatest concern however, is to identify the technology and soft wares that teachers will be able to learn about quickly and plan instructional designs that will enhance cognitive development.

      I also wish to look further for those technologies that will help to mobilize critical thinking, leading to results that can be innovations for the future. I recently heard on the news that jobs that were outsourced to developing countries because of lower cost for manufacturing are now being attracted back to the US. What does this mean for us? Well, I am hoping that those companies will invest more in technology that we will have access to for advancing the educational standards of our learners.

      So we have to look ahead with an open mind on a global level to understand technology that is out there and also what is being developed so that there will be diverse options from which to choose. Some main criteria from which to evaluate available and developing technology are adaptation by learners, technology professional development for teachers, affordability for low economic status schools and adaptation by the social system to include the education board and administrators.

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