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Module 2: Attributes of Successful Distance Learners

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  • Distance learning is described in out text as the practice of education with various combinations of time and geographical distance applied.  Coldeway defined a framework of 4 approaches in which time and place are applied to distance education;  same-time, same-place; different-time, same-place; same-time,different-place; different-time,different-place.  Distance learners can further be broken down into 2 general categories; adult and P-12.  Schrum and Luetkehans (1997) specify that "the great majority of adults learning at a distance were reported to be in the 20-40 age range and studying on a part-time basis from their homes while maintaining full-time jobs”.  This statistic was retrieved from the website  http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter24/buchanan24.html.  On this same website,  Jegede points out that typical characteristics of adult learners included, among others, autonomy, persistence, independence, self-direction and flexibility.  Personally, I find the last two characteristics very important and challenging since, as adult, with full-time work, children and family responsibilities, I must be self-directed in order to get my assignments completed on time.  I must also be flexible with my schedule since I cannot always do my assignments when I want due to competing objectives, however, distance education affords its own flexibility in allowing me to log on and execute my discussions or other assignments at various times in an asynchronous manner.Even though Schrum and Luetkehans pointed out the general age of adult learners is between 20-40 years, there is also the possibility of having adult learners that are older as well and who also may be less tech-savvy.  As Sherry (1996) points out in the website http://www.vccaedu.org/inquiry/inquiry-spring2003/i-81-smith.html, “Older adult students tend to be more unsure about their technology capabilities and feel they need more access to instructor support than younger adult students”. Sherry also points out that an important factor for successful distance learning is for the students to know that their instructor is caring, concerned about the students, provides a high level of interactivity, confident and experienced.  I meet this criteria as an over-40 distance learner and also rely on my instructors to show a high level of competence with the software packages that we use (eg. Adobe Creative Suite) and to also provide timely feedback.The website http://academic.son.wisc.edu/wistrec/archive/OnlineLearning/Characteristics.htm describe the characteristics that successful distance learners possess are high motivation, independence, and an ability to adapt to new learning environments.  The website goes on to say that distance learners should possess good organizational and time manageme
©2006 Dean Matthews (sliktoxic19)