Applying distance learning technologies to real-world examples

The number of distance learning technologies available to instructional designers, beyond the content management system (CMS), appears to grow on a daily basis, but how do you choose which ones to use, and when? As part of this week’s class assignment, I was presented with a real-world example to problem-solve that very question. The example is as follows:

Example 1: Collaborative Training Environment
A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

Based on the information in the example above, I need to consider the following in choosing the technology to meet the requirements of this type of training environment:

  • Since the learners are located in different places, and cannot at the same time, the technology must be able to support an asynchronous environment. The asynchronous environment is one where “learners choose when and where to learn” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 10).
  • The learners need to be able to share documents.
  • The learners need to have access to a screen capture tool.
  • The learners need to be able to collaborate.

According to Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek (2012), “the web offers powerful opportunities for resource utilization, collaboration, and communication” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 136) and that “the power of the Web can be employed through the use of Web 2.0 applications. These tools are all about student engagement and higher-order learning” (Simonson, et. al., p. 136).

There are three Web 2.0 distance learning technologies I would propose for this situation: Facebook, Dropbox, and Jing.


Since the participants need to be able to collaborate in an asynchronous environment, the instructional designer can set up a secret Facebook group as the main site for the training workshop. Facebook secret pages required an invitation, and are not publicly searchable (Facebook Help Center, retrieved 03/2015), which means that the instructor can invite and track participants. Training workshop content, such as videos and documents, can be posted to the secret Facebook group, where learners are instructed to use the comments section as a discussion forum related to the video or to the training documents. According to a study by Sanchez, Cortijo, and Javed (2014), “although Facebook was not originally designed for educational purposes, it has a great potential to enhance the learning experience. As several authors state, Facebook can promote collaborative models of learning, connect students and instructors, increase learners’ motivational level, and create a more comfortable classroom climate” (Sanchez, Cortijo, and Javed, 2014, p. 146).


Dropbox is a file storage site that allows you to share your files securely (Dropbox Homepage, 2015). The instructional designer can set up a Dropbox folder for the training workshop, and share the folder with the learners.  All of the documents, videos, and resources associated with the workshop are stored in one place, and can be shared with the Facebook group (Dropbox Help Center). Molinari (2013) highlights Dropbox as a place for students to collaborate.


“Jing is a computer service that let you capture basic video, animation, and still images, and share them on the web” (About Jing, 2015). This tool gives the workshop instructor and participants the screen capture functionality identified as a requirement in the real-world scenario. Koepke and Kopp (n.d.),  and Purdue University’s Instructional Development Center Blog both discuss that Jing can be used for providing video feedback.

In 2006, Yoany Beldarrain, in the article Distance Education Trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration, stated “the 21st-century learner requires educational opportunities not bound by time or place, yet allow interaction with the instructor and peers “(Beldarrain, 2006, p. 150).  The number of technologies available to instructional designers has grown tremendously since Beldarrain’s article 9 years ago, yet, as the real-world example I was presented with in class this week shows, Beldarrain’s statement remains true to this day.



About Jing. Retrieved from

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance Education Trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139-153. doi:10.1080/01587910600789498

Dropbox. Retrieved from

Dropbox Help Center. Retrieved from

Koepke, K., and Kopp, B. (n.d.). Using Jing in your teaching. Retrieved from

Molinari, A. (2013). Creating a sense of community for distance dearners: Examples from the field. Texas Adult & Family Literacy Quarterly. (17)3. Retrieved from

Purdue University Instructional Development Center (2010 February 20). Jing Video feedback [web log]. Retrieved from

Sánchez, R. A., Cortijo, V., & Javed, U. (2014). Students’ perceptions of Facebook for academic purposes. Computers & Education70, 138-149.

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


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