Transactional Distance Theory

As I read through these articles on Transactional Distance Theory, several things stood out for me.  I was especially surprised to see how early Moore was trying to define distance learning (1972-1973).  I have always associated distance learning with the heavy use of technology.  In 1972 home computers were non-existent.  Colleges had computers, but they were used for teaching programming (still key-punch cards!) and heavy number crunching.  I also  thought it was important that he tried to quantify how  the components of distance learning would best work together to create an effective learning environment.  The less “transactional distance” between the teacher and student would result in a better class.

I have taken and taught hybrid online classes.  This theory does  reinforce what I have experienced – the easier the interaction (“dialogue”) between the teacher and the students, the better the class was for me.  I will need to make sure that the virtual lesson I design does include easy ways to communicate between class and teacher, and among classmates.

I do have one concern/comment about the articles – does anyone else feel like they are taking something we find intuitive and making it more complicated?   (i.e., that the more communication we have with students, and the willingness to be flexible in our approach to a class, the better the results)

 

Sharon Shadrach

Greetings  to all!  My name is Sharon Shadrach, and I currently  teach  Computer Science and Math at Powhatan High School.   I am starting my 14th year of teaching in Powhatan.  This is the beginning of my 7th year at PHS.  I am a career switcher – I spent 23 years in the technology industry before I became a teacher.  I am taking this course to find out how to create an effective online course.  I have taken (11 years ago) and I have taught (the last 3 years) hybrid courses, combining online learning and face-to-face time.   I did not create the online portion of the hybrid course I taught (Economics & Personal Finance).

Free time?  What is that?  When I have free time, some of the things I like to do are:

  • Read!
  • Work in my garden
  • Quilting & sewing
  • Attend music festivals (love the Folklife Festival!)
  • Crafts
  • Look for neat pottery
  • Go to the beach!
  • Play with new tech toys

Impressions of the chapter – After seeing so many colleges turning to distance learning, I found the opening paragraph of the chapter very interesting.  It was refreshing to see that other people were uncertain about how to create this kind of program, and questioned the effectiveness of such a venture.  I was surprised to find out  how long the online programs had been present.  I had heard about distance learning for students in remote areas, and also the “MOOCs”, but had not actually taken any of those classes.  One major impression/concern was the emphasis on interacting with other students online in a program.  This concerns me because of the Virtual Virginia programs used at our school – here, students are isolated, reading and answering questions but not interacting with each other (for the purely online students).  I am happy we made the Economics class a hybrid, so that students would have a chance to interact.

As much as I love technology and “tech toys”, both blogging and tweeting are new to me.  I frequently read blogs from others, and keep track of the happenings on our school’s twitter account, but this is the first time I have had to create these items.  I confess I am a bit uncomfortable putting my thoughts and opinions “out there”.  Hopefully I will be able to overcome this discomfort as the course progresses.  I think the blogging will be useful for learning from each other; I am not sure how much “tweeting” can help in the learning process – but I am open to new ideas!