StellaPORTO eportfolio

E-learning academics and practice

Distance education is not online education

It was the summer of 2001 when I started the MDE. Although I had already taught a a distance, this was the first time I was a student using the model adopted at UMUC. OMDE 601 was taught by Dr. Ulrich Bernath (at the time the director of the MDE in Oldenburg), and guest experts, who at the time were all strangers to me: Dr.Dr. Boerje Holmberg and Dr.Dr. Otto Peters.

The big discovery was that distance education was so much bigger than online education. I had seen online, but I knew absolutely nothing about all the theories that supported distance education, and which encompassed online learning. It served as an “aha” moment for me. I realized how much was ahead of me and it served as an enormous motivational force.

Moore’s systems theory would become a solid reference for everything I would study within the MDE. It gave me the holistic understanding of the DE ‘enterprise’, which at the moment I was part working for UMUC. It allowed me to starting understanding all the smaller subsystems within the larger system. At a time where UMUC was quickly moving to a more “industrialized approach”, studying Otto Peter’s writings was of crucial importance, although I think I only grasped it later on in OMDE 606. The “conversational communication” of Holmberg seemed natural to me, and almost impossible to believe that this was once not the norm. Gliding through information about other institutions, especially those with greater historical prominence was of essential importance to see theory translate into reality.

OMDE 601 was a wonderful door to this new world of learning…

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