Distance learning has taken on an evolutionary process. The first generation of distance
education technology was by postal correspondence. This was followed by a second generation,
defined by the mass media of television, radio, and film production. Third-generation distance
education (DE) introduced interactive technologies: first audio, then text, video, and then web and
immersive conferencing. It is less clear what defines the so-called fourth- and even fifthgeneration
distance technologies except for a use of intelligent data bases (Taylor, 2001) that create intelligent flexible learning or that incorporate Web 2.0 or semantic web technologies (Anderson & Jon, 2011).
As the role of distance education continues to make more of impact of our educational systems, the perception of distance education is constantly changing. Dr. Siemens discusses in the The Future of Distance Education how more and more of us are having experiences online: emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. These experiences are allowing individuals to relate the whole online experience in a more dimensional way. Higher learning institutions that were once seen as just traditionally based schools are now offering hybrid online courses as certified online degrees. The future seems to promise that distance education courses and traditional education courses will coincide.
This uphill journey will guided by the instructional designers who are responsible for displaying an educational format that forces its opponents to see that a distance education is a viable form of education. This can be done by creating an intellectual means to collaborate, discuss, and communicate the ideals of that chosen forum. The students of distance education will be responsible for taking the knowledge acquired from their distance education and representing in a professional way.
As a student of distance education, my opinion of distance education has also evolved. The work ethic required to be motivated and to express myself orally and written has forced me to be a deeper thinker. I will use the skills that I have gained from being a distance learner to embrace its ideals and make its strengths stronger and its weaknesses a strength.