Virtual Teaching and Learning

#OLTEC Theories of Research


What theories or research can inform your current practice of distance learning?

I have never taught a distant education class. However, I have taken several. Within our readings for this week, one particular point resonated with me. A research study documented in chapter ten addressed “understanding the relationship between cognitive style and achievement levels”  (Moore and Kearsley, 2012). While being an adult educator, the greatest tool I’ve learned is to stop, watch, listen and ask questions of my students in order to better understand their learning styles. It’s challenging to know how to best facilitate a learning environment for a diverse student cohort. The following is part of a journal article that addresses the construction of a learning environment to help support the learning patterns of individual students in a distant education environment.

1. Online contact: Since students can’t talk to the teacher or other students face-to-face, the teacher should attempt to construct a supportive environment and provide timely online contact and assistance to all the students (Ehrman, 1990). In most situations, the teacher should provide a listserver mailing list or a chat room for all students in a specific class to talk about the course matters and ask or answer questions in order to reduce learning anxiety and maximize learning performance.

Online contact and assistance includes two major types. One is the online peer contact between students and students. According to Amundsen and Bernard’s (1989), peer contact could significantly discriminate between final academic standing and course completion. The other is the online contact between the teacher and students. This can be achieved by talking either through the list server mailing list to all students or through the teacher’s individual e-mail account to the individual student. In addition, the teacher should use various media as needed, including face-to-face, telephone, e-mail, letter, note, memo, and the like.

2. Diversified learning styles: The adaptation of the design of distance education to students’ cognitive styles should allow diversified learning styles to meet all students’ characteristics. Specifically, the teacher should selectively provide theory-based learning to the assimilators and application-based learning to the accommodators; provide individualized learning to field independent students and cooperative learning to field dependent ones.

I’m going to have to expand upon this further this week….this is a first-time post and I wanted to make sure I had something up for us to think about. In a synchronized learning environment, understanding and meeting students where they are in their learning styles is challenging in itself. I am very intrigued on how to achieve such a task in an online blended or asynchronous classroom!!  
Moore, Michael and Kearsley, Greg (2012). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning. Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Retrieved from

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume II, Number III, Fall1999 State University of West Georgia, Distance Education. Retrieved from


7 thoughts on “#OLTEC Theories of Research

  1. Naomi,
    I appreciated the article information you shared about online support and contact between peers and instructors. One thing I’m curious about is if you ran across any tutoring, co-teacher, or other supports/interactions for assistance in learning articles. This is something that we’re currently exploring in our virtual learning education and face to face learning programs. This would reach beyond the basics of peer to peer and student to teacher interactions and introduce other options. Students would interact with tutors, intervention programs support staff, or even AI or cognitive-tutor type programs that have students interacting with software for skill-gap/fix-up instruction rather than an individual. I even wonder about students doing research or teaching themselves skills they know they are missing without the help of peers, teachers, tutors, or specific software but rather exercise control over their learning and obtain knowledge/skills on their own (learner autonomy). The reason I pose these questions is because it is something that I notice the K-12 realm grappling with but as someone in post-secondary education, are you affected by these initiatives at all? (Meaning, does the post-secondary realm feel any urgency to work with students to support skill-gap instruction? If not, do you think there is any responsibility to do so in the higher education world?)

    • I’ve never heard the term “skill-gap” before but I think I understand. In my classes all of my interaction is face-to-face and hands-on training, so if I see an area of opportunity with a student I address it then and there. There is no pressure, urgency or real direction as to how I teach from the University or my director. As instructors, we have full autonomy in our classrooms. I personally am commited to getting to know each of my students and try to understand their individual learning styles in order to relay the information to them in a manner for them to be responsive and comprehend the subject matter. We do not co-teach, but as a department we meet monthly and talk about standards to uniformly adopt. Students often have no idea that they are missing a skill-set until it’s been brought to their attention. I do think that if given the option, some may go out on their own to obtain more information and have autonomy with their learning. But most of what I’ve seen is that the majority of students need direct leadership..

  2. Hi, I like your thoughts on using various media for communication, especially as it includes Web 2.0 venues. This meets the needs of diversified learning styles while really making a course more interesting… something for everyone. It’s a little like triangulating the direction your content is going. It helps you be sure learners are getting the material and allows you to objectively evaluate the teaching and learning at the same time. Good fodder, thanks. -Helen

  3. I think that meeting a variety of learning styles is just as easy online as in the classroom. Students can easily learn by reading, listening, watching, and discussing. Even tactile learners have opportunities, though I think that this learning style is definitely the most difficult to reach in an online environment. I think of the ways that I can directly show my face-to-face students how to do something specific (i.e. a tactile task) and realize that such a thing isn’t possible via distance; you have to get creative. Nicole mentioned that she has colleagues who successfully teach welding and music from a distance, so it is possible; you just have to be creative with your tools and find other ways to do things. Video or online synchronous demonstrations are an obvious delivery method, but being able to give immediate feedback might be difficult. It seems like it would take more time and planning to make sure students can get appropriate feedback.

    • Definitely! For example I really think it would be a challenge to teach cooking in a distance course…there are so many nuances as far as stance, movement, how to hold the knives correctly, etc. Demonstrations would be easy enough but as you said, that immediate feeedback would be tough…there would be a disconnect for sure. Developing materials for the parent/teacher that would be following through with the student is where the most, or perhaps the only, control would be.

  4. It is daunting to think about teaching to the different learning styles of students in an asynchronous online format. How do you teach to the kinesthetic learner in this manner. Maybe the course could include supplemental lessons that included manipulating common household items or printouts of manipulatives that could easily be constructed by the student. Students with highly interpersonal learning styles would need a distance/virtual “elbow partner”. I am just bouncing some ideas out there, it would be a challenge to develop an online/distance program that addressed all the various learning styles.

    • It would be a challenge for sure…I wonder if it would be beneficial if you did a survey at the beginning of the course to find out what each students learning style is. Also, I think if the students were made aware of how they learned, as well as being made aware of other types of learning styles, they would perhaps become more conscientious within their learning environment. I like to understand different perceptions because for me, it opens up new worlds of understanding. As a cpourse designer, I think it would be helpful because you could slip in something for everyone!! And, when grading test and so forth, you would better know how to individually address issues with each student.

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