Introduction & The Current State of Online Learning: Design – Develop – Deliver


Goal: The first blog post includes a self introduction explaining why I’m taking this class, what I hope to learn, relating some of my previous experiences with online learning, and anything else that will help me connect to my fellow students.

Without these student-student interactions an online class like this can feel isolating. Use the blog comment spaces to share ideas, give meaningful critique and offer encouragement to your fellow students. – Brian Newberry

My Introduction

My name is Lorraine Gersitz and I’m a librarian at Cerritos College. I’m currently on sabbatical and I’m using my leave to take courses in educational technology and e-learning. Even though librarians are notoriously early adopters when it comes to technology, and I’ve tried my best to keep current in the field, I’m here at CSUSB to take courses that will help me learn about and become expert in a wide variety of educational technologies, philosophies, theories, and practices so that I can understand how best to facilitate learning in a non-face-to-face environment. With this knowledge I hope to be able to implement innovative new services and revitalize some of the existing ones at the Cerritos College Library. I want to become a more effective, innovative, and creative librarian who can better engage today’s students.

Here at CSUSB I’m working towards the e-Learning Certificate. In fact, this is the last course I need to complete the requirements. I plan to continue taking ETEC course and complete the Educational Technology Certificate as well.

At Cerritos College I teach dozens of stand-alone research skills sessions each semester that focus on specific topics assigned by classroom instructors. I also teach a hybrid library skills course using the Sakai Learning Management System (LMS). My goal when I return to the college next semester is to create web-based tutorials on library and information literacy skills that can be taken on the student’s own initiative or incorporated into any class by any instructor. I’ve started exploring those technologies thanks to the courses I’ve taken here

Now that I’ve completed four graduate level e-courses here at CSUSB I think I’m finally getting the hang of being an e-learner. It’s very easy to fall behind if you don’t stay motivated and manage your time wisely. But, after successfully completing four courses I’ve learned that the instructors here do an excellent job of describing and laying out the course, the objectives, the expectations, the learning management system, and the time-frame. They also provide excellent examples of how to facilitate e-courses. But in the end it’s the student’s responsibility to manage their time and keep up with the assignments. I realized that the sooner I log on each week to get started, the less stress I have at the end of the week. But I have to admit I appreciate the flexibility offered by online courses.

I look forward to another interesting course with Professor Newberry and learning about some technologies and methods I can use with students in the library.

IMG_20140802_124659697_HDRWhen I’m not being a librarian and a student, I’m a very active triathlete. I swim, bike, and run – a lot. In fact, ’m going to Boston next week to run the Boston Marathon on April 20. Two weeks after that I’m heading to St George for an Ironman 70.3 race on May 2. Don’t worry Professor Newberry, I’m bringing my laptop.

Respond to the following questions based on your interaction with the session 1 podcast:

1. Explain the relationship between distance learning and online learning.

According to the lecture, online learning is the natural result of distance learning adopting new communications technologies. For me, that’s a very clear way to describe the evolution of this type of learning. In ETEC 501 we researched the history of distance education and how it has changed over the years. Indeed, most of the changes were due to new and evolving technologies – from mail, to radio, to film and television, to the internet. As I discovered in ETEC 501, most researchers agree that distance learning was born in the 1700s out of a need for educational opportunities to reach a geographically dispersed and diverse populations. To that end, the first distance learning experiences were in the form of correspondence courses. Other instructional formats emerged at the onset of the industrial age in the 1920s. Developments in new technology during that period saw distance learning opportunities grow through the use of radio, film, audio, and television. In the 70’s, distance learning entered the computer age as technological advances made distance education more sophisticated and more accessible. Completely online colleges and universities, such as the University of Phoenix and Coastline Community College, were established to give working adults flexible education opportunities. In the 1990’s, as more and more courses were being offered online, course management systems such as Blackboard were developed to help instructors create, disseminate, and manage their coursework and assessments though end-user friendly programs that would be consistent throughout the institution.

Prior to the internet age distance education was media driven but it wasn’t truly online. The online dimension changed the face of distance learning by allowing students and instructors to transmit information easily, not only between student and instructor but also among classmates. Distance learning still gives students with differing geographic and/or time constraints access to educational opportunities but online learning allows them to connect with their course cohorts even though physical distance and time differences exist.

2. Discuss the main difference between distance learning and online learning.

It seems to me that online learning is a type of distance learning but not all distance learning is online learning. The following definitions help clarify the difference.

Online learning:

  1. One of the primary applications that constitute e-learning, online learning is an interactive form of distance education. It integrates independence (asynchronous online communication) with interaction (connectivity) that overcomes time and space constraints in a way that emulates the values of higher education (Garrison, 2011).
  2. Online learning is distance learning where the bulk of instruction is offered via computer and the Internet (Poulin, 2002).

Distance learning:

  1. The term “distance education” was originally used to describe the process of providing knowledge at a distance to students who didn’t have access to education due to the geographic barriers. The distance education movement was an effort to extend the reach of the traditional university and to overcome problems of scarcity & exclusivity of academic institutions (Historical Purpose).
  2. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Education defined distance education as “education or training courses delivered to remote (off-campus) location(s) via audio, video (live or prerecorded), or computer technologies”. In the late 1990s the American Association of University Professors defined distance education (or distance learning) as education in which “the teacher and the student are separated geographically so that face-to-face communication is absent; communication is accomplished instead by one or more technological media, most often electronic (interactive television, satellite television, computers, and the like)”. Also late in the 1990s, the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET) sought a definition that did not focus on technology and would be easy for anyone to understand: “Perhaps the simplest definition is that distance learning takes place when the instructor and student are not in the same room, but instead are separated by physical distance”. Three main concepts are common to these definitions:
  • A course of study is being undertaken involving both teaching and learning.
  • Overcoming barriers of place and/or time. Teachers and learners traditionally meet at an appointed place at an appointed time to pursue a course of study. Distance learning originally developed to overcome the difficulties of teachers and learners who were not in the same geographic location. More recently, distance learning may also serve those who might be at the same location, but choose not to meet at the same time.
  • A tool is used to facilitate learning. To overcome the distance of place or time, some form of technology is used to communicate between the teacher and learner. Originally, the technologies of pen, paper, and the postal service were used to connect them. As electronic communication technologies (audio, video, and data) became readily accessible to learners, these have been increasingly used (Poulin, 2002).


Garrison, R.  (2011). E-learning in the 21st century. New York, NY: Routledge.

Historical purpose. (n.d.). History of Distance Education. Retrieved from

Poulin, R. (2002). Distance learning in higher education. In J. W. Guthrie (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Education (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 589-593). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference.

3. List the three types of interaction proposed by Moore (1989) and explain each type of interaction in your own words.

In the lecture we were introduced to Joi L. Moore’s proposal that there are three types of communication interaction that contribute to success in a distance education setting. They are:

Learner-content interaction – The basis of the educational process, this occurs when the student interacts with the subject matter. An understanding of new information, the course content, enables the learner to construct new knowledge.

Learner-instructor interaction – An important component of a successful learning environment, this occurs when the instructor presents information in an organized manner that stimulates student interest and keeps them motivated. Instructors should be available to support, encourage, and counsel students with relevant feedback.

Learner-learner interaction – An important aspect of any classroom, often referred to as Social Presence in the Community of Inquiry (CoI) educational model. This interaction occurs when learners share information with their peers and receive feedback. Learners become active participants in the learning community which leads to deeper thinking and learning.

4. Discuss some of the differences between the early days of online learning and today. Then make some predictions about the future of elearning. Please include at least one good article/website/citation for this item. For example:

With the advent of the computer age, distance learning took another step on the technology ladder. No longer solely dependent on mail, radio, television, or satellite, instructors realized that “The computer was the missing piece of the educational puzzle that would facilitate the free flow of information between teacher and learner as well as introduce the previously absent interpersonal aspects of communication.” (Casey, 2008)

But even with a computer interface, the early days of online learning featured an emphasis on computer-based programs and/or documents that were “pushed” to students via email. There was little interaction other than email between teacher and students and virtually no interaction among classmates. Early online courses resembled correspondence courses in many ways. It wasn’t until 1991 when Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web and created an information superhighway that could potentially link all computers that the possibilities for fuller online learning experiences began to explode. Since then, the potential for interactive, virtual classrooms is limited only by an institutions budget, vision and course management system. (Casey, 2008)

Online learning today is no longer simply about students who are physically removed from campus. Today, online educators and students on and off campus have access to unprecedented amounts of online content in the form of books, textbooks, videos, and real-time connectivity. There’s a focus on interactive and collaborative e-learning using social media as well as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The future of elearning is bright. As proven by the long history of distance learning, as technology advances so will elearning.


Casey, D.M. (2008). A journey of legitimacy: The historical development of distance education through technology. TechTrends. 52(2). Retrieved from ERIC.