When I was growing up, some of the cartoons were based in the future like THE JETSONS (2062). It had TV looking sets and could communicate by live video feed to one another from wherever they were, including their “vehicles”. Usually it was Mr. Spacely calling George to hire or fire him. “George had a computer called R.U.D.I. –an acronym for Referential Universal Digital Indexer. He had a human personality and was a member of the Society for Preventing Cruelty to Humans. While episodes made in the 1960s referenced rockets and other “space age” theme devices, reflective of the real-life U.S. space program which fascinated America, the 1980s episodes leaned more towards how computers would influence life in the future” (

In 1984, DUNE was released. It was based on Frank Herbert’s book by the same name. In the beginning there is a scene of a young male teenager watching his “homework” in 3D CG video on a screen. It was so crystal clear it looked real.

With the showing of AVATAR (2009), one could take a “screen” from a frame and put it into another “frame” or into the air and work on the project in midair. From The Jetsons to DUNE is about 15 years. From 1984 to 2009 is 25 years.

Since 1984, computers have evolved from huge rooms containing only one computer for N.O.A.A. to small hand held devices capable of communicating with anyone from anywhere in the world like mini iPads.

In 5-10 years, I believe there will be more students, traditional and non-traditional students, taking classes and entire degree programs online from A.A. to PhD. Although there are already some institutions out there that have these options, there are a lot more that do not. We currently have MOOCs, free online courses from major universities all over the world from the U.S. to Australia. It is my hope that education will become cheaper for everyone because of the volume of students online and onsite at universities.

In 10-20 years, it would not surprise me if the majority of core courses are taught entirely online with the exception of classes that require laboratories. There is no substitution for hands on learning in a lab. By then, I hope that instructional designers, through excellent design, have helped to dispel the idea of “diploma mills”.

New technologies are being improved and developed every day. Currently, Adobe and Microsoft Office are now in The Cloud. Adobe CS 6 will be the last disc and paper based version they put out. According to Aseiya, an online customer service representative of Adobe, “Adobe products will be available in CC” (Aseiya, CSR Adobe, 2013). Having these tools in the Cloud will make it easy for anyone to access the Adobe products from anywhere on the planet.

As an instructional designer one of the ways to be an advocate for improving society’s perceptions of distance learning is to always do moral and ethical work to the best of my ability. I do well in a structured environment. One thing that I would have a hard time compromising is my morals and ethical work. I have turned down a position where I would have been required to interpret words from Spanish into English that are not in my vocabulary. Some of the words and phrases, I had no idea they even existed. I do not want to pollute my mind with vulgarities so I choose not to work in that particular area.

In order to be a positive force for improvement in any area, one has to talk about their area. For me, distance education has been a gift. When I first started my online journey in education, I had to do a lot of the work on my lunch hour at work. Some of the work could be done at home without an internet connection but not for the classes with the book entirely online and the lab work online. After work and on weekends, I would be dropped off at McDonald’s and do my homework until 11:00 PM when they closed the doors. (I had dial-up at the house.) I was able to talk to a lot of people about why I was there. They saw the computer and figure someone is just catching up on Facebook or working. Then, they saw the pens and pencils, notebooks and books, headset and microphone and knew I was not messing around. Conversations began and my quest to recruit students for Walden began. I sang the praises of Walden as I believe in Walden University and what it is doing for distance education. Walden is helping to close the gap in accessible education. If it were not for Walden, I do not know if I would be still be seeking an online degree.

”We must, I think, look at the problem as a whole, not at a particular part of that problem, not at a segment or a fragment of it, but at the whole problem of living, which includes going to the office, the family, love, sex, conflict, ambition and the understanding of what death is; and also if there is something called God, or truth, or whatever name one might give it. We must understand the totality of this problem. That is going to be our difficulty, because we are so used to act and react to a given problem and not to see that all human problems are interrelated. So it seems that to bring about a complete psychological revolution is far more important than an economic or social revolution – upsetting a particular establishment, either in this country or in France, or in India – because the problems are much deeper, much more profound than merely becoming an activist, or joining a particular group, or withdrawing into a monastery to meditate, learning Zen or Yoga.”  ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti


Krishnamurti, J. (n.d.). Look at the problem. Retrieved from (2013).

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum. Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

The Impact of Open Course – Spanish I

While taking classes online is usually FOR credit, there are options available to learn without cost to the learner. These courses are open courses for anyone to acquire more knowledge on a particular subject or as refresher courses. The Open Course I chose is from MIT – Spanish I.

     The site is laid out well. There are clear expectations and directions.

The course Home Page is laid out with graphics of Hispanic flags and a Welcome! In the Course Description, it states that it is “very different from other classes at MIT”. There are 26 videos lasting 30 minutes each to go along with the textbook and workbook. It goes on to talk about what they do in the “classroom”. At this point, everything follows what they do “in the classroom”. It appears not to be written specifically for online instruction.

The Assignments are clearly communicated and include links to outside sources as well as an online version of the textbook: Destinos. The assignments are laid out by the class day. These are not laid out in Unit-Module Topic Guideline format. As stated by Simonson, et al, 2012, “When courses are planned, the designer might want to use the Unit-Module-Topic approach model (UMT approach)”.

In the Resources section, the first resource, LLaRC (Language Learning and Resource Center), is no longer active. There is not an opportunity to work in a “lab” setting. They need to have some other source for a language lab. In learning another language, part of the process is learning “how” to sound. The textbook seems to have an option so one can listen to sounds. However, the “voice” giving directions sounds mechanical. To me, it is not very inviting nor engaging.

In order to assess how one is progressing, there are quizzes and tests along the way. I took a 20 question Basic Quiz on the verbs Ser and Estar. When I was finished, it was graded. I had missed 4 and it gave me hints on the ones I had missed and an opportunity to change them and get graded again. I scored 100%. Having a positive assessment is important when learning. It gives a person confidence and the desire to continue with the course.

There is a list of “In-Class Activities”. Although the handouts, in PDF form, are great and it is good information, there is not an option for grading to see if one has the correct answer or not. Here is an example of the first 10 activities listed.

1 Vocabulario de las presentaciones (PDF)
2 Actividad Verbo SER (PDF)Completar con SER o ESTAR (PDF)
3 Actividad para descubrir los parentescos (PDF)Repaso del episodio y de los verbos regulares en tercera persona (PDF)
4 Repaso vocabulario y verbos en el presente (PDF)
5 Horarios y asignaturas (PDF)Vocabulario: asignaturas, y horas (PDF)
6 Destinos Lecciones 1-6: Repartir una serie de 10 oraciones a varios grupos de estudiantes. Los estudiantes deben leer al oración conjugando los verbos para que otro de los grupos identifique al personaje (PDF)
7 Repaso Episodios 7 y 8 (PDF)
8 Verbos irregulares (PDF)Presente de verbos de raíz irregular (PDF)
10 Actividad: ¡Es hora de encontrar un novio para Raquel! (PDF)

Here is an example of an activity without the benefit of an answer sheet.

So, in regards to the questions we were asked, it does appear to be well thought out, carefully pre-planned but not designed for distance learning. It is possible to be a self-paced course but there is still the issue of “grading” in some aspects of the course. Without an answer “guide”, a learner will not know whether or not they are progressing well through the course. This course was clearly designed for a traditional brick and mortar classroom environment as it clearly and consistently refers to “in the classroom”. The activities will give a student a better understanding of the language but could have been more interactive as they were only on paper. A few ideas for interactivity would be an online crossword puzzle, a fill in the blank story, etc. However, it would need to have software to check the accuracy of the work. All in all, it is a good resource for a refresher but not for an actual distance learning course.


Groeger, Margarita, and Solivia Márquez. 21F.701 Spanish I, Fall 2003. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), (Accessed 6 Oct, 2013). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA