Simonson, M., Schlosser, C., & Hanson, D. (1999). Theory and Distance Education: A New Discussion. The American Journal of Distance Education. 13(1), 60-75.
This article provides an older perspective on distance education, and is specifically situated in the American experience. It specifically proposes the theory that the distance education should be equivalent to that of the local educational experience. The authors review literature on the development of distance education and arguments about the lack of theoretical support for this development. The article pays particular attention to theories of distance education (theories of independence and autonomy, theories of industrialization of teaching, and theories of interaction and communication) as raised in Keegan’s 1986 book, Growth and structure of distance education, and summarises these from American and European perspectives. The authors argue that instructional designers should aim for equivalent learning experiences for all students, this equivalency being based on value for the student, even if the way it is delivered or how that experience looks is different. They ultimately argue that aiming for equivalency in learner experience would unify learning and teaching as acts.
I loved this article and felt that it was ‘speaking to me’ in a way. It provided theoretical underpinning to a point of view I already hold, in a number of areas. I suspect technology makes it easier to apply equivalency theory in practice today than it was when this paper was written.