Distance education in the decade ahead

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Judith Boettcher and Rick Shearer presented a framework of predictions, opportunities and challenges for learners and broke them down by implications for learners, faculty members, content and learning environment. Participants suggested adding educational leadership and instructional designers to the groups considered. Predictions for learners were that students may draw courses from various institutions to build individualized courses of instruction. Predictions for faculty members included issues related to either incorporating technology/teaching more explicitly in tenure requirements or evolving to more of a two track system with tenure line researchers and adjunct or continuing appointment instructors focused on teaching. Challenges and opportunities include increasing focus on accreditation and competencies: zeroing in on what learners know and can do as a result of education. Concerns were raised about social networking "dumbing down critical and reflective thinking skills."

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