Equivalency Theory

Category: Education

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Equivalency Theory on Distance Education


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Distance Learning and the Equivalency Theory:

Distance Learning and the Equivalency Theory Kenneth Shelton

Michael Simonson and Desmond Keegan:

Michael Simonson and Desmond Keegan According to Simonson Distance Education can be defined as formal, institutionally-based educational activities where the learner and teacher are separated from one another, and where two-way interactive telecommunication systems are used to synchronously and asynchronously connect them for the sharing of video, voice, and data-based instruction. (Simonson 1995) Keegan (1995) suggested that electronically linking instructor and students at various locations creates a virtual classroom

Keegan in Visual Terms:

Keegan in Visual Terms

Simonson’s Distance Learning Definition :

Simonson’s Distance Learning Definition



Equivalency Theory’s Key Elements:

Equivalency Theory’s Key Elements Equivalency Learning Experiences Appropriate Application Students Outcomes


EQUIVALENCY Foundational to this theoretical approach is the concept of equivalency. Local and distant learners have fundamentally different environments in which to learn. It is the responsibility of the educator to design learning events and/or modules that provide experiences with equal value for learners.

An Example:

An Example A triangle and a square may have the same area and be considered equivalent even though they are different geometrical shapes, the experiences of the local learner and the distant learner should have equivalent value even though these experiences might be very different.

Learning Experiences:

Learning Experiences Second in importance is the concept of the learning experience. A learning experience is anything that happens to the student to promote learning, including what is observed, felt, heard, or done. It is likely that different students in various locations, learning at different times, may require a different mix of learning experiences. Some may need a greater amount of observing while others require more doing. The goal of instructional planning should be to make the sum of experiences for each learner equivalent. Instructional design procedures should attempt to anticipate and provide the collection of experiences that will be most suitable for each student or group of students

An Example:

An Example If library resources are important to a course or unit, then library resources should be available. This does not mean that distant learners in a university research course will need access to a modern research library. It does mean that the educational equivalent of the resources of the library should be as readily available to the distant learner as they are to the local learner, whether electronically, through collaborative agreements with local libraries, or through the delivery of library resources to the distant student.

Appropriate Application:

Appropriate Application The idea of appropriate application implies that learning experiences suitable to the needs of the individual learner and the learning situation should be available and that the availability of learning experiences should be proper and timely. In other words, learning experiences that are made available to either distant or local learners should allow delivery of instructional ideas that fit the expectations and facilities available to them; desktop video conferencing should not be expected of learners accessing Web-based information by modem. Similarly, collaborative learning strategies are not appropriate when an individual learner is isolated unless an equivalent, technology-based collaboration is arranged.


Students Students are the ones involved in the formal, institutionally based learning activity---the course or unit of instruction. Students should be defined by their enrollment in a course, not by their location. They necessarily seek institutionally-based education, sanctioned by a recognized and accredited organization.


Outcomes The outcomes of a learning experience are those obvious, measurable, and significant changes that occur cognitively and effectively in learners because of their participation in the course or unit. Outcomes consist of at least two categories: Those that are instructor determined and those determined by learners. Instructor-determined outcomes are usually stated as course goals and objectives and identify what learners should be able to accomplish after the learning experience that they could not accomplish prior to participating in it. Learner-determined outcomes are less specific, more personal, and relate to what the learner hopes to accomplish as a result of participation. Equivalent learner- determined outcomes are identified when students enroll in follow-up courses or apply newly learned skills to job or course situations.

PowerPoint Presentation:

Equivalency Equality



Assess Instructional Technology Availability:

Assess Instructional Technology Availability What is the lowest common technology? Computers Internet Connection Speed Peripheral Availability Hardware Superiority 2. What level of abstraction is the most efficient for learning? Symbols Used Video Graphics Messaging

Determining Learner Outcomes:

Determining Learner Outcomes Environment should be media rich and strive for authenticity Instruction should be differentiated through the use of multiple technologies Cognitive Apprenticeship should be encouraged Outcomes should become more learner-centric and objectives guided by the learner

Learning Experience Should Be Identified And Matched To Appropriate Technologies:

Learning Experience Should Be Identified And Matched To Appropriate Technologies Courses should be organized around themes or concepts that are tailored to student activities Class discussions should take place in chat rooms, online discussion boards, etc. Activity and instructional design should be sophisticated and fully engaging

Learning Experience Should Be Prepared For Online Delivery:

Learning Experience Should Be Prepared For Online Delivery Linear Programmed Instruction Content is organized in blocks or chunks Students progress through chunks in order Progression is determined by performance on self-tests Instructor designs and sets order for chunks Branched Programmed Instruction Content is organized in blocks or chunks Instructor designs and sets order for chunks Progression is determined by performance on self-test, i.e. more proficient student can “branch ahead” Hyperprogrammed Instruction Web-based online instruction Content organized into modules Students set own pace through content Learning experiences mediated and identified Student Programmed Instruction Framework of content provided online Learners provide structure, outcomes, and sequence of learning activities




REFERENCES Simonson, M., Schlosser, C., & Hanson, D. (1999). Theory and distance education: A New Discussion. American Journal of Distance Education, 13(1), 60–75. Simonson, M. (2000). Making Decisions: The Use Of Electronic Technology In Online Classrooms. New Directions For Teaching And Learning, no.84, 29-34

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