EDUC 7722 Week 1 Reflections

Distance Education in the United States: Past, Present, Future by Farhad Saba


  1. As a technical trainer, I have heard about the things faculty like and dislike about typical distance learning systems such the one we use at UNH: Blackboard. As a student, I have heard (and thought) about a similar set of likes and dislikes. Saba includes such a list from 1948, "related to the use of radio in education, some of which have not been resolved even now with new media as educators experiment with the latest technologies". This gives credence to the idiom: "the more things change, the more they stay the same". That's because most of these technologies lack the capacity to adapt to meet user "where they are", adapt to particular needs, or recognize when a user can move ahead.
  2. The Wikipedia article, Adaptive Learning, provides a list of recent technologies that incorporate the missing capacities. None of them are cheap and as Saba writes, "will not preclude or eliminate the need for live
    dialogue with an instructor or a learner’s community of peers". Over the past few years, I've learned (anecdotally) that social interaction is crucial to learning and cannot be overestimated as a factor in student retention.
  3. Even the best adaptive systems will always be (IMO) supplemental to learning because they are just a piece in the whole education pie.