I have to admit, at first I did not take this interview/question assignment very seriously. Once I had the results, however, I understand why the assignment was important. I managed to get responses from four different people and since they were not very long-winded in their responses, I am providing them for you to see as well.
I have to laugh because the people I asked to answer the questions responded just as my 9th graders did to pre-tests, “But, I don’t know the answers.” Seriously? Adults and they STILL think everything is right or wrong. I just told them to consider it me taking their temperature regarding a topic. That seemed to do the trick. In retrospect, perhaps I should have stopped while I was ahead.
At first I tried to select interviewees who did not know me as well so they would not be biased by my experiences, even if they are hearsay. Unfortunately, I began running out of time. I asked about six different people and ended up with answers from four. Two of who know me very well and one fairly well, and the last not very well at all. I have results from three males and one female. The males were 46, 50+, and 64. The female is approximately in her mid-twenties. None of them are participating in any distant learning courses. I will provide a transcript of their answers following each interview question as M1, M2, M3, and F.
The results were a little disheartening. Granted, the questions were not calibrated and three to four people responding to only five questions are certainly not a valid research sample. Still, I was a little surprised by the results. I feel a little like Alice in Wonderland. There must be two different dimensions or worlds because in my world everyone understands what distant learning is, the quality and integrity of most of the programs, and the rigorous academic experiences of the programs. But, the people who answered my questions obviously do not live in my world, not at all. Let us see what you think.
1. CAN YOU TELL ME AT LEAST THREE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AND TRADITIONAL LEARNING PROGRAMS?
Discussion – The responses to question 1 were fairly mundane, and within the realm of expectation.
M1: (1) “In distance learning the teacher is not physically present; (2) Distance learning is generally done in the comfort of their home/surroundings; (3) Since there is no “daily class time” the distance learner needs to be more self-motivated to complete tasks and homework.”
M2: (1) “No face to face contact; (2) more comfortable environment; (3) less pressure.”
M3: (1) “Expense, convenience and educational environment.”
F: “Distance learning would depend on technology more than traditional learning programs. Tradition would provide more 1 on 1 student teacher attention. It would also be easier to interact w/students in traditional courses.”
2. HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS TO TRADITIONAL IN-CLASS LEARNING PROGRAMS IN TERMS OF LEARNING OUTCOMES (I.E., RESULTS)?
Discussion – The responses to this question showed obvious bias from the first two males having been “exposed” to someone in a distance learning program. The other two subjects were representative of persons unfamiliar with distance learning in general. As a result, they valued traditional learning over distance learning. These results were not surprising to me.
M1: “Theoretically there should be no difference.”
M2: “I believe they are comparable in terms of results.”
M3: “Distance programs may impart the necessary skills, but not the complete educational experience.”
F: “I would say that in class would result in higher test score just because of the form of teaching.”
3. HOW DO YOU THINK EMPLOYERS COMPARE DISTANCE LEARNING EDUCATION GRADUATES VERSUS TRADITIONAL LEARNING EDUCATION GRADUATES?
Discussion – The respondents all seem to be in consensus that employers would not value an employment candidate’s education as highly from a distance learning program. Again, not surprising responses. I would tend to agree without doing a literature review.
M1: “I think at this moment they don’t have the understanding or knowledge of distance learning and could categorize the education as inferior to traditional learning.”
M2: “I don’t believe employers take online education seriously.”
M3: “Again, employers may believe distance grads have the skills, but not the complete package.”
F: “I think employers would hold greater weight on traditional education because of the higher quality education obtained.”
4. HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS TO TRADITIONAL IN-CLASS LEARNING PROGRAMS IN TERMS OF SOCIALIZATION?
Discussion – The respondents were a little more disparate in their answers to this question. This may, unfortunately, be due to a poorly worded question. The use of the term “socialization” seems to have thrown them off a bit. M1 makes note of no face to face interaction, but that does not inherently mean no socialization, does it? Something to follow up on. M3 and F both fall well within the myths of distance learning parameters.
M1: “There is at this time no face to face interaction between classmates.”
M2: “There may be no physical interaction, but you still converse with other students in the course of study.”
M3: “There is no comparison – like having dinner with someone vs. having a video chat.”
F: “Traditional would provide more opportunity for socialization because of the class dynamic.”
5. WHY DO YOU THINK SOME PEOPLE PARTICIPATE IN DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS RATHER THAN TRADITIONAL LEARNING PROGRAMS?
Discussion – The answers to this question were also a little interesting. Clearly, access, convenience, and flexibility were high on the list of reasons people participate in distance learning programs. No surprise there. But, M2 mentions “camaraderie” seemingly to imply that distance learning removes the student from same. However, the same person earlier stated distance learning accommodates conversing between the students. Freudian slip perhaps? Also, M3 indicated affordability as a reason people participate in distance learning programs. It may well be true that some distance learning programs are more affordable, but I highly doubt there is enough financial significance to create an impetus to take up distance learning.
M1: “Easy access.”
M2: “It’s easier for them to work online as opposed to having to deal with the camaraderie of a traditional classroom.” ”
M3: “Convenience and affordability.”
F: “Distance learning may work better for their lifestyle in certain cases it may be more flexible than traditional classes.”
Overall, I was a little disappointed. I can understand M3 being a generation older than I am, but the female respondent is in her mid-twenties. I would have thought her answers would have been more progressive. I am definitely curious to read everyone else’s interview questions and results to see if they are similar or dissimilar. There are times I feel like I have already missed the technology boat, but then an assignment like this comes along and it seems like more than half the world is still waiting for the next boat. It is very surreal.