Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

“New teaching models will benefit from the purposeful and deliberate integration of technology tools that will enhance student interaction” (Beldarrain, 2006, p. 150).

Example: Interactive Tours

A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?


The world is at our fingertips – if we can take the time to figure out how to use all the tools. As educators, we are no longer limited to the resources close to home. We can reach out across the country or the world to places our students may never get to see in person.

In the example above, I am using the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) as the two museums to reach out and explore. Both museums have extensive web sites with sections specifically for students and teachers. Below are the links to the educator sections of the web sites.

  1. MET –
  2. MoMA –

There are two distinct goals for the teacher in this scenario. First, the teacher wants to reach out to a curator from each museum for a discussion (and possible tour) of the art in a specific exhibit. This can be set up using Skype for a specific date and time. In this way, students will get first-hand information from an extremely knowledgeable person. They will be able to ask questions and have a dialog centered on the artwork. The teacher and curator can have a discussion beforehand to make sure they keep the students on topic during the Skype session.

“’Skype in the Classroom’ was created for teachers …, as the Internet-based communication service kept hearing stories about teachers who had begun using the software in their classrooms so that they could introduce their pupils to cultures and experts worldwide in real time” (Waxman, 2012). Skype will need to be downloaded to the teacher’s computer. The classroom will also need to be set up with a camera for the curators to see the students so they can see who is asking questions. If possible, a projector and screen or SmartBoard could be set up so students can see the curator while they are talking and possibly showing the art work, instead of everyone huddling around one small computer screen.

The second goal is for the students complete a group critique of a few pieces of art from the exhibits. As students are learning how to critique the artwork, using a wiki to create a WebQuest to walk students through the process would be ideal. “A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web” (Young & Bauer, 2009). Both museums have videos and podcasts on their web sites, which would enable the teacher to step students through the critique process. When creating a wiki, the teacher would lay out the process in steps, and students could work in pairs or small groups to begin to learn how to critique artwork. In the end, there could be a class discussion of the entire process to end the project knowing all students understood the process and how to critique properly.

Showcasing Technologies

  1. Skype
    1. Using Skype to Increase Educational Communication –
    2. Ten Ways to Use Skype to Learn –
    3. How Teachers Use Skype in the Classroom –
    4. Wiki WebQuest
      1. PDF – Revisiting_WebQuest in a Web 2 World: How developments in technology and pedagogy combine to scaffold personal learning
      2. Links to resources for WebQuests –
      3. WebQuest Wiki Template –
      4. Slideshare: Wiki WebQuests –


Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139-153.

Waxman, O. B. (2012, November 28). How teachers use skype in the classroom. Retrieved July 18, 2014, from Time website:

Young, R., & Bauer, I. (2009, February 16). Wiki webquests: Challenge your students with an inquiry oriented lesson. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from SlideShare website:

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