Emerging Technologies and Distributed Learning for publication in The American Journal of Distance Education


1 The development of high performance computing and communications is creating new media, such as the WorldWide Web and virtual realities. In turn, these new media enable new types of messages and experiences; for example, interpersonal interactions across network channels lead to the formation of virtual communities. The innovative kinds of pedagogy empowered by these emerging media, messages, and experiences make possible an evolution of synchronous, group, presentation-centered forms of distance education—which replicate traditional " teaching by telling " across barriers of distance and time—into an alternative instructional paradigm: distributed learning. In particular, advances in computer-supported collaborative learning, multimedia/hypermedia, and experiential simulation offer the potential to create shared " learning-through-doing environments " available anyplace, any time, on demand. This article speculates about how emerging technologies may reshape both face-to-face and distance education. Its purpose is to delineate a three-part conceptual framework (knowledge webs, virtual communities, and shared synthetic environments) for understanding the new types of instructional messages that enable distributed learning. Although this study cites leading edge scholarship to reinforce its claims, it is a position/discussion piece rather than an inclusive review of all relevant distance education or educational technology research. As such, the emphasis is on expanding the reader's conceptualization of " distance education " rather than on proving the validity of specific pedagogical practices. Because the technologies discussed are still swiftly evolving, case studies and formative evaluations are the predominant types of scholarship available. Moreover, both instructional technology and distance education lack extensive quantitative research on pedagogical strategies and designs. This potentially constrains the generalizability of the evaluative studies described and places the ideas presented in the realm of informed surmise rather than proven fact. However, these limitations are intrinsic in any attempt to depict the future of a field. At a time when the technologies, economics, and public policies underlying all forms of schooling are rapidly shifting, distance educators cannot afford to wait until this evolving situation is fully understood and some standardized recipe for innovation can be constructed. By sketching emerging opportunities and assessing their potential implications, this position paper seeks to draw its readers into a dialogue on how the field of distance education should invent its future by rethinking its fundamental assumptions about teaching and learning. What does the evolution of new media mean for distance educators? A medium is in part a channel for conveying content; new media such as the Internet mean …


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@inproceedings{Dede1996EmergingTA, title={Emerging Technologies and Distributed Learning for publication in The American Journal of Distance Education}, author={Chris Dede}, year={1996} }