Tuesday, 17 March 2009

... learning from a distance ...

Last week I watched Curt Bonk's video responses to questions posed by Manchester University DTCE students. The final question - the one on motivation - was a question I had submitted.

My basic premise was that the success of distance learning courses was reliant on the higher motivation levels of driven adult learners. Of course, this is a "gut" feeling and the case would need to be either proven or disproven. I'd suggested as part of the question that distance learning courses could only most effectively target a narrow band of (motivated) adult learners and thereby the success of distance learning could only be judged favourably by the participation of this narrow demographic.

Distance Learning Revolution?

However, I must confess, that having emailed Curt to which he responded promptly (and gave me permission to use his image), and having considered his videocast, I'm not exactly any wiser about his opinion on the matter. My intrinsic belief is that when it comes to the question of the success of distance learning courses, the received "evidence" on this relies on the higher motivation levels of adult learners. I therefore tread with caution over the argument that distance e-learning will bring about a whole scale learning revolution for all* that I sometimes get the impression is a popular belief. There will, for the foreseeable future be the traditional requirement to meet needs for key sections of learners in classrooms in face-to-face settings.

I am interested that Curt Bonk was authoring a book on this very subject which he said was in response to popular requests for (another?) motivation manual.

*As a distance learning student, I am of course happy that I can follow a distance learning programme, as this is the type of setup that meets my needs at this time.


  1. a bit early, but, here's a dissertation topic for you :).

    I think there's a few issues that come into play here: formal vs. informal learning, the extend to which this is different than f2f courses (i would assume that the people who choose to pursue a degree are more motivated than those who don't), the difference between what is possible for people to do and what people actually do...

    Thank you for the post!

  2. Great question! It's an important area for research Tor. The success of any innovation in teaching and learning absolutely hinges on uptake by less motivated learners.


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