Today in class discussion, traits of the distance learner were presented.  What struck me from this conversation, as well as from the article review I had just completed, was how gender plays a role in distance education. More specifically, the female gender.  While both gender identify that flexibility, academic achievement and opportunities for shy personalities to participate in the learning environment, females tend to be more engaged in distance education (Kirby, Sharpe Bourgeois and Greene, 2011). As Simonson, Smaldino, Albright and Zvacek (2012) identify, women are more likely to choose online education because of family and children, as the female college student tends to juggle work, school, and family obligations. Because of these demanding roles, studying at a distance makes achieving academic goals possible.  Research published in Canada supports Simonson et al.’s (2012) findings. In fact, Kirby et al.’s (2011) research looking at high school students transitioning to postsecondary revealed that regardless of exposure to online learning in high school, the only people to favor online instruction in postsecondary were females.  As online learning grows, it is important to understand who your learners are and what their needs require.  This research will be important for future design architects and educational instructors because, while females still identify the need for quality instruction, this information also reinforces the need to be flexible and adaptable when facilitating learning in an online environment.

References:

Kirby, D., Sharpe, D., Bourgeois, M., & Greene, M. (2010). GRADUATES OF THE NEW LEARNING ENVIRONMENT A Follow-Up Study of High School Distance e-Learners. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 11(3), 161-173.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of Distance Education (5th Ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson.

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