Workshop Introduction

"Thank you Joe for putting together such a comprehensive program. I am very fortunate to have been introduced to distance education in such a comprehensive way."
R.P., Canada

"Thanks for all your hard work on this. As a newcomer to this sort of distance education, it is nice to begin the adventure with the best practices to learn from."
L.H., Michigan

"I'm very glad that I participated in this Semianr. It was a very interesting and wonderful experience, and I am very sad we have come to the end of this wonderful road! I thank you for your help and encouragement and kindless ...and empathy!!!"
P.P., Italy

"Thanks again for facilitating this workshop. Very thought-provoking and informative!"
H.D., CA

Teaching At A Distance: From Concept to Practice


The April/May 2007 session was the final workshop to be offered. After a very successful 4 years of offering the Online Workshop, new priorities/projects are demanding more and more attention and it was time to move on to them. However, due to the many requests that I have received, the workshop materials (PowerPoint presentations, discussion questions, resource links, discussion board, etc., etc.) will be made available - for free - here on this website. This will allow educators, alone or in small groups, to participate in their own self-directed workshop on how to teach at a distance. If you would like to receive an announcement when Teaching At A Distance - Self-Directed is available, please enter your email address in the box below. Joe Levine
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The real challenge behind a syllabus for a distance education program is to balance the technology that will be used with a strong emphasis on the personal side of learning. A good distance education syllabus will be the first step in building a sense of relationship between the instructor and the learners and among the learners. It will become a cornerstone of the program.

Our Learning Objectives:

The Online Workshop has been organized with two very clear learning objectives in mind. The first objective is a cognitive objective (dealing with the content that will be delivered) and is the most obvious -

Cognitive Learning Objective:

At the conclusion of the online workshop each participant will be able to effectively create a plan for the implementation of his/her own distance education instruction.

Please note that the focus is on the learner and not the content. Certainly the content is important but the emphasis of the workshop is on the key role that the learner plays in distance education.

The second objective is also focused on the learner. However, this objective is not focused on cognitive learning - it is focused on affective learning (dealing with the feelings and emotions that are always present in a learning situation).

Affective Learning Objective:

At the conclusion of the online workshop each participant will have actively participated in a real distance education program and will be able to use the feelings of that experience as a frame of reference for their own distance education teaching.

This objective is just as important as the first. It is concerned with providing an opportunity for each participant to experience what it feels like to learn at a distance.

Our Website:

The website for the Online Workshop is the key to our interaction. Once you register you will receive your Login and Password to enter the workshop website. Check out the discussion board postings from a recent workshop.  

The Instructors:

The instructors are committed to helping the participants develop a knowledge base relating to distance education and also to provide an opportunity to experience first hand what being a learner at a distance feels like. Once the program is operating the instructor role is one of clarifier, reinforcer, challenger and encourager.  The content (knowledge base) is already in place through readings and the audio/visual presentations.   The interaction system is also in place and ready for everyone's use.   

 Our Text:

We will be using selected chapters from the new book, "Making Distance Education Work: Understanding Learning and Learners At a Distance." These chapters will be a major form of content input during the workshop and will serve as the basis for online dialogue and discussion. It will be important for all participants to do the reading in a timely manner. All participants will receive their own personal copy of the book (via regular mail). In addition, the book will also be made available as an eBook on the workshop website.

The Audio/Visual Presentations:

PowerPoint presentations have been prepared for each of the 5 workshop themes. The idea of the presentations is two-fold - to introduce and clarify each of the five themes and to create a more viable learning environment (something that can be very difficult to create in distance education). Each presentation is limited to no more than 15 minutes in length and can be viewed directly from the workshop website..

A Human is Available!

This workshop has been set up so that it's possible for each participant to interact in an entirely independent/asynchronous manner - checking into the discussion board when convenient, reading the text when time is available, watching the PowerPoint presentations in the privacy of one's own home, and taking the self-tests to see how you're doing. Though every attempt has been made to create a technological learning environment that works 100% of the time, there are certain to be problems along the way. Please remember, when all else fails, email the lead instructor! I'll try and respond as soon as possible. And, if possible, I'll try and solve whatever the problem might be. ( Don't wait until the problem gets out of control.

What You Will Be Doing:

During each segment/theme of the Online Workshop you will be responsible for doing the following activities:

  • View the PowerPoint presentation
  • Read the assigned chapter(s) in the text
  • Share your thinking/receive feedback on the Discussion Board
  • Post on the Discussion Board your reaction to the ideas of others
  • Take the Self-Test

Isn't That A Lot Of Work!

It probably appears like a lot more work than it really is. Besides the readings and the PowerPoint, the key will be to regularly check into the Discussion Board to see what others are saying and to share your own thinking. Probably 15-20 minutes online, once or twice each day, will keep you involved with the learning. Each theme will be the focus of our attention for an entire week - providing lots ot time for meaningful interaction. Check into the Discussion Board as often as you would like.

Test Yourself:

For each of the five workshop themes there is included on the website a short self-test to see how you're doing.

The Discussion Board:

The Discussion Board is the "heart" of our workshop. You will be encouraged to post a short biographical sketch about yourself (and a digital picture if you have one) and to share your comments/ideas about each of the five themes (and to react to the comments of others). The Discussion Board (and the entire website) will be available to all participants for one month following the conclusion of the workshop.

After you have registered for the Online Workshop you will receive an email that includes your password that will give you access to the Workshop’s website/Discussion Board and an electronic copy of the eBook "Making Distance Education Work: Understanding Learning and Learners At a Distance". (In addition, a personal copy of the book will be sent via regular mail to each participant.) 


Experiment with the different features of the Discussion Board.  You will find it very easy to use. 

Check out the discussion board postings from a recent workshop.

And finally –

Participants are encouraged to share their ideas about an actual distance education program during and following our program. No need to worry about how complete your design is.  Put together a rough draft, post it on the Discussion Board or as an email to the instructors and have an opportunity to receive feedback on your idea. 



Not sure if the online workshop is really for you. Try your hand at the Pre-Assessment that has been included. The Pre-Assessment should further clarify the workshop focus and how it fits your own learning needs.

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