Distance Education and Transfer of Learning

7 Oct

Being an online learner might seem easy, but it’s actually just as hard as attending regular classes. While we are not required to go to school on a regular basis, we still do the same amount of tasks that a regular student does.


Also, being a distance learner takes a lot of hard work. You have to set your own schedule and make sure that you’re following all lessons at the right pace. Regardless of how smart you think you are, you won’t succeed in distance education if you’re not motivated and determined to learn on your own.


Why do I participate in forum discussions?



In a typical classroom setting, teachers encourage students to participate in class in order to assess how much they’ve learned about the subject. The more questions the students ask, the more reassured a teacher feels regarding the progress his or her students are making.


The same thing happens in distance education. We are asked to participate in asynchronous forum discussions to apply what we have learned from our readings. Aside from allowing us to put our ideas and thoughts into words, online discussions also facilitate learning by encouraging us to read and react to our classmates’ posts.


I participate in forum discussions for two reasons: it helps me gauge how much I’ve learned from the assigned readings and it gives me the opportunity to know what my classmates have to say about our modules. While some students think that participating in forum discussions is only a bother, I actually see it as an enriching experience and as an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of learning theories.


Do forum discussions facilitate transfer or learning?



I believe that forum discussions play a huge role in ensuring the transfer of learning. In distance education, online discussions are used to bridge the distance between students and professors. They make students feel like they belong to a nurturing online community of learners who are willing to exchange their thoughts and opinions about diverse topics and subjects.


So, how do forum discussions facilitate transfer of learning?


a.)   Through forum discussions, students are encouraged to understand instead of simply memorizing the new concepts they learn (understanding vs. memorizing). Stimulating questions are asked, and students are asked to base their answers on the theories they’ve learned in the class. Also, students are encouraged to cite examples to make sure that they have developed a deeper understanding of the topic.

b.)   Unlike the usual objective exams and multiple choice tests, forum discussions are based on the view that transfer of learning is an active, dynamic process. Instead of assuming that transfer can be measured based on the learner’s ability to solve problems right after they have read the materials, they measure how much students have learned by asking questions that don’t require a simple yes or no.

c.)   Online discussions help learners monitor their own progress through deliberate practice (Ericsson et al., 1993). Teachers also provide feedback regarding the responses of students, which allows them to realize the whether they really understood the topic or not.

Whether forum discussions are graded or not, they will always be important tools for measuring the progress of students. A teacher who can encourage students to participate online can easily help his or her class become expert thinkers and lifelong learners.


4 Responses to “Distance Education and Transfer of Learning”

  1. monetteabalos October 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Nice post Marisse!

    Participating in an online forum discussion will improve our understanding about the lesson. It deepens our awareness on the topic as we exchange ideas with our classmates.


    • marrissegarchitorena October 14, 2012 at 5:52 am #

      Hi Monette! That’s true. We’ll probably find out more about learning from others once we get to our 7th module (Social Learning).

  2. laumaceds103 October 9, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    just read all your posts, and I’ve got nothing more to say but… I’M A FAN MARRISSE! sure hope that you’ll have a column or two on the major papers or mags.

    • marrissegarchitorena October 14, 2012 at 5:50 am #

      Gee, thanks Laura! I’m not really that confident about my writing, so I have never thought of working for a newspaper or a magazine. I’ll drop by your blog too! 🙂

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