Theoretical Foundation of Distance Education

Nowadays, distance education is becoming a more flexible, accessible, and essential approach to learning. Because of this reason, a theoretical base has needed for learning. A theory has used to clear the concepts. Also, it has used to reinforce the growth and effectiveness of it. Holmberg(1985) recognized the need for a theoretical foundation for education, stating that “theories lead to penetrations telling us what in distance education is to expect under what conditions and circumstances, thus paving the way for corroborated practical methodological form.” Above all, we will discuss here systems, communication, and media theory as our theoretical background. Also, We will cover some most common distance education theories as well as some other theories related to distance education.

Theoretical Foundation

Different theories described here help to provide background support for the theory of distance education. 

Therefore, here we discuss the three major categories of theoretical foundation:-

Systems Theory

Systems thinking has been serving a significant academic background for distance education. Also, the System approach contributes to the Conceptualization of distance learning. Ryan (1975) defined that:

“A systems approach is an operational concept, referring to a scientific, systematic, and rational way for optimizing outcomes of an organization or structure, by implementing a set of related operations to study an existing system, solve problems, and develop new or modify existing systems.”

Communication Theory

Communication is a complicated process. Also, its definition has changed over the years. So, there are four aspects of communication: the transmission perspective, the behavioral perspective, the interactional perspective, and the transactional perspective.

In Transmission Perspective, the information has passed from one person to another. This perspective has based on the mathematical model of communication that was developed by Shannon and Weaver (1949). In this model, learners will select the message and change that message in the form of a signal and then send that signal through a communication medium.

The learner clarifies how the message has understood by giving feedback, in Behavioral Perspective.

In Interactive Perspective, communication takes place as a social perspective, not like one person to another.

The transaction perspective highlights the distribution and co-creating meaning among participants rather than an interpretation method during communication.

Media Theory 

It is the process of learning through interaction and with the help of media on which we should have focus. Also, Reiser (2007) defined media as “the physical means via which guidance has presented to students.” Moreover, in distance education, media has used as the instructions in the form of PowerPoint presentations, videos, animations, etc.

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