ADEC Guiding Principles for Distance Teaching and Learning
- The principles that lend themselves to quality face-to-face
learning environments are often similar to those found in web-based
- With all forms of media converging to a digital platform,
advanced educational technology may include a variety of learning
environments and information appliances.
- While rapidly emerging technologies offer unlimited potential
for virtual learning environments for both face-to-face as well
as distance learners, practical application of existing
technologies may often prove highly effective for various
audiences and objectives.
The following principles are intended to serve as guidelines
for identifying and evaluating web-based courses and non-formal
educational programs. Web-based learning environments may be
designed for distance as well as face-to-face students. Other
relevant guidelines for support services and administrative
policies are included on the ADEC web site and
on the back of the ADEC folder in hardcopy.
- The learning experience must have a clear purpose with tightly
focused outcomes and objectives.
Web-based learning designs must consider the nature of
content, specific context, desired learning outcomes and
characteristics of the learner. Learner-centered strategies
include modular, stand-alone units that are compatible with short
bursts of learning. Learning modules may also be open, flexible
- The learner is actively engaged.
Active, hands-on, concrete experiences are highly effective.
Learning by doing, analogy and assimilation are increasingly
important pedagogical forms. Where possible, learning outcomes
should relate to real-life experiences through simulation and
- The learning environment makes appropriate use of a variety of media.
Various learning styles are best engaged by using a variety
of media to achieve learning outcomes. Selection of media may
also depend on nature of content, learning goals, access to
technology, and the local learning environment.
- Learning environments must include problem-based as well as
Problem-based learning involves higher order thinking skills
such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation while knowledge-based
learning involves recall, comprehension and application.
- Learning experiences should support interaction and the
development of communities of interest.
Learning is social and sensitive to context. Learning
experiences based on interaction and collaboration support
learning communities while building a support network to enhance
learning outcomes. Multiple interactions, group collaboration
and cooperative learning may provide increased levels of
interaction and simulation.
- The practice of distance learning contributes to the larger
social mission of education and training in a democratic society.
Changing mental models and constructing new knowledge
empowers learners and encourages critical thinking. "Knowledge
becomes a function of how the individual creates meaning from his
or her experiences; it is not a function of what someone else
says is true." (Jonassen, 1995)
Characteristics of quality web-based teaching and learning:
- Fosters meaning-making, discourse
- Moves from knowledge transmission to learner-controlled systems
- Provides for reciprocal teaching
- Is learner-centered
- Encourages active participation, knowledge construction
- Based on higher level thinking skills -- analysis, synthesis, and evaluation
- Promotes active learning
- Allows group collaboration and cooperative learning
- Provides multiple levels of interaction
- Focuses on real-world, problem solving
Dede, D. (1996). The evolution of distance education:
Emerging technologies and distributed learning. The American
Journal of Distance Education, 10(2), 4-36.
Guiding Principles and Practices for the Design and
Development of Effective Distance Education. A Report of the
Faculty Initiative Funded by a grant from the AT&T Foundation.
Penn State University, 1997.
Jonassen, D., Davidson, M., Collins, M., Campbell, J., &
Hagg, B.B. (1995). Constructivism and computer-mediated
communication. The American Journal of Distance Education, 9(2),
Masie, E. (1997). Advice for designer of online learning --
think small. Technology for Learning.
Principles of Good Practice for Electronically Offered
Academic Degree and Certificate Programs. Western Cooperative for
Educational Telecommunications. 1996. http://www.wiche.edu/Telecom/projects/principles.htm
Task Force for the American Council on Education and The
Alliance: An Association for Alternative Programs for Adults.
Guiding Principles for Distance Learning in a Learning Society.
Turgeon, A. (1997). Implication of web-based technology for
engaging students in a learning society. Journal of Public
Service and Outreach, 2(2), 32-37.