My Philosophy of Distance Learning

Special education is a unique genre in education which has an extensive range of intelligence within its scope of disabilities. Distance learning is defined as “institution-based, formal education where interactive telecommunication systems are used to connect learner, resources, and instructors” (Schlosser and Simonson, 2010). Hybrid learning (or blended learning) is a form of distance education. Hybrid learning is a combination of technology-based learning activities (asynchronous or synchronous) with face-to-face interactions (Kwan, Fong, Kwok, & Lam, 2011). A flipped classroom (or flipped learning) moves lecture material out of the traditional classroom setting to an online delivery method, extends the conversation or discussion portion of the traditional classroom instructional tool to a discussion media like Blackboard, moves “homework” or independent activities into the traditional classroom where the instructor serves as a facilitator and opens up classroom time for application and practice based learning experiences (Baker & Mentch, 2000). Therefore, my philosophy for distance education is a radical analytical constructivism theory.

Is distance education for special needs students more than a notion? Piaget (1961) suggested that cognitive development is a continuum involving the interaction of four influences: maturation, active experience, social interaction, and a general progression of equilibrium. Hence, a radical analytical constructivist (RAC) is an individual who is willing to challenge the norm, who takes a large concept and breaks it down into smaller digestible portions of information and who believes that knowledge is generated from one’s experience and ideas.
Students with learning disabilities, the hidden disability, seem to be misunderstood and underestimated in higher education and in the K-12 school systems (Kenyon, 2003). Learning disabilities can be language based disorders, neurological disorders, or cognitive disorders. Regardless of the types of learning disabilities, these special needs students can be a person with average to above average intelligence (Kenyon, 2003). Factors that affect the learning disabled students’ outcomes include their actual abilities, the reliability of the assessment instrument, and their ability to understand the directions and questions, and their attention span during the testing session (Kenyon, 2003). As a RAC, I believe that special needs students who receive less than one third of their education services in special education have the capabilities to gain useful knowledge from their learning experiences.

Most educators agree that there is a significant difference between online learning and traditional classroom learning (Schneiderheinze, 2005). Schneiderheinze (2005) continued by describing the classification of curriculum models noted by Gustafson and Branch in 1997. He proceeded by explaining some of the current technologies and their applications in the K-12 school systems and the workforce environments. Thus, I perceive that special needs students with learning disabilities are equipped with the tools to enhance their learning through online learning. With the current and future needs for technological training and the web-based learning, e-learning can provide the difference between the have and the have nots in the e-learning tutorial models and the advancements in the corporate or educational genres (Schneiderheinze, 2005).

Therefore, I affirm that distance education for special needs students will benefit from hybrid flipped learning. This instructional strategy or method is a combination of two neophyte concepts within the education genre. The combinations are hybrid learning, a combination of the traditional classroom with online assignments, and flipped classroom, an independent and practical application conducted during class time and instructional in video format outside of the classroom. The video format allows students the opportunity to view the instructional information several times without being embarrassed, allows for an increase in comprehension, and allows students to develop a self-paced learning style. The hybrid learning model allows the special needs students to receive their special education services from a certified special education teacher. And so, the student’s individual education plan requirements are being met
and implemented accordingly.

Researching my philosophy for distance education reveals that I am a radical analytical constructivist. I believe in the radical concept that distance education can benefit special needs students and provide them with an effective method of learning outside of the traditional resource or the inclusion classrooms.

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