Until recently, constructing perfect learning environment implied involving a teacher often interacting with a single student. Separated by differences in education and vision of the learning system, the teacher and student engaged in a planned two-way exchange using print and electronic technologies. During the past two decades, many countries, especially those with higher education systems unable to meet the rising demand formed by rapidly growing populations and economic circumstances, have addressed the demand by creating open universities based on the online instruction model. This paper explains how online graduate instruction integrates learning environment into its instructional approach. A concrete example of the specific online instruction system employing these learning theories is used to illustrate the matter.
Content of the study
Modern learning environment can be described as an industrial form of education, where mass distribution, standardization, division of labor, and assembly-line procedures are defining characteristics. In the United States, Thomas Edison (New Jersey) and Empire State (New York) were created based on the concept of offering degrees using the online instruction model. Until the past decade, other more established universities in the United States offered courses but usually not full degrees using this model. In Australia and New Zealand, on the other hand, many campus-based universities long ago started offering full degree programs at a distance using the online instruction model. These universities were known as dual-mode institutions, reflecting the fact that they offered degrees both on-campus and at a distance (Waltman, 2006).
In a more recent type of learning environment, a teacher is connected synchronously with students in remote locations. The most common form, prevalent in the United States, involves connecting a teacher with off-campus learners via audio-conferencing, video-conferencing, or computer-conferencing at scheduled times. Very often, especially when video connections are used, students still travel to a central location, such as a community site or an educational center, to access the technology and to meet with other students. Yet this requirement is rapidly changing as systems become more robust in their connective capabilities and technology access in homes and businesses improves (Halpern, 2003).
A new set of learning environments based on distance education models are currently being developed. In these models, students are dynamically connected through the Internet and other advanced technologies with each other, with faculty mentors, and with institutional academic support structures. The available choices regarding pedagogy, technology, culture, and strategy are becoming increasingly complex as well. Students are provided with continuous and regular opportunities to interact with each other and with the teacher. The demand for a more sophisticated online graduate instruction is also rising, commanding for integrating learning theories into online instruction.