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Job of the future?

An interesting post about the top 60 jobs of the future came into my Google Reader this morning. As I was reading through the job descriptions (most of which are pretty cool and that I can see actually happening), I nearly fell off my chair at Job #41: Distance Education Consultant:

The future of college is online. There has been a boom in the distance learning sector over the past few years, as people struggle to balance getting a college education with holding down a day job to support themselves or a family in this economy. It’s a fairly new teaching model, however, and improvements are needed. In turn, more distance education consultants will be needed to develop new techniques and use innovation to solve any and all current problems within the structure of distance learning.

First, distance education doesn’t necessarily mean online learning. I realize that most people think of them as synonymous but that’s not necessarily true. If the original creators of the top 60 list had done their homework, they would have renamed the job title to “Online Instructor” or even “e-Learning Developer” since it seems that’s what they’re describing.

Anyway, distance education includes radio broadcasts, video, pen & paper through the post (print materials), and even standalone education on CDs to name a few.  Online education, on the other hand, is delivered (wait for it) online through the Internet, typically. I’m not even going to get into mlearning.

Secondly, distance education is not a new teaching model. Actually, it’s not even close to being a new teaching model. Distance education has been around in one form or another for over a hundred years. Online education is just the newest incarnation of distance education. The next logical step, if you will, in a field that has been around for, well, forever really.

Third, what teaching model? Best practices for teaching, yes, but I don’t know if I’d go as far to say it’s a model. It would be like saying ADDIE is a model rather than a process (I just know I’m going to get flak for that). Rather than focusing on ineffective “teaching model” I’d look to ensuring that the instructors are ready to actually teach online. It’s a bigger job than most realize. As far as I know, most of the big online educational institutions require some kind of training before they let their instructors loose on unsuspecting students. This wasn’t always the case in the past, though, so I can see where that might still be an issue.

The only part of the Distance Education Consultant description that I agree with is that last sentence. Mostly, anyway. Innovation is always happening in a field that relies more and more on technology and it’s a field that will always need people ready to step up to the plate with ideas/skills/drive. The rest of the sentence refers to a job title that is so vague that it could apply to any number of distance education careers.

Do you agree with the job title or description? How would you have worded it instead?

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