B. Barrett

American Public University (UNITED STATES)
While distance education has been happening for several centuries, the advent and creation of the next phase of distance education, known as online learning, has been evolving slowly. Along with the development of online learning, the use of technology has enhanced its course design, development, implementation, and overall evaluation. However, the leading question of this paper is whether online learning has been limited due to the rate of new technology, current online learning design and thinking or due to the lack of creativity in the field of online learning by instructors or designers. In any field, when there is great leaps of discovery and implementation, there may be a lull in the process or a set of barriers or limitations preventing it from moving forward. Consequently, we have to realize that online learning may be at a standstill and prevented from advancing due to the current practices, policies, procedures, and people (known as the 4Ps). However, this raise yet another level of inquiry, do the role and functions of all stakeholders in education, particularly the field of online learning, have a certain obligation to the advancement of online learning or is the status quo enough to meet current and future needs of adult learners. The areas of consideration will help to serve as a framework for further exploration of what area potential barriers or delimitations of online learning and whether they can be overcome for others to excel in the development and advancement in the field of online learning or must there be a set of chain of further events or a critical incident to accelerate such changes? According to current literature, the rate of students taking online courses is accelerated at a rapid rate, and one out of three American adult learners are now taking at least one online course. The reasons for the acceptance of online learning may be due to a variety of reasons ranging from lack of time to sit in a physical classroom, transportation courses, family and work commitments and more. In any event, there is a growing need for online learning today than ever before, but are we, as educators, offering the students the opportunity for a true learning experience that is enveloping substantially or just offering learning in the “just-in-time” framework and hope for a majority of student satisfaction in our courses and fulfilling necessary academic requirements for accreditation purposes? We need to look at whether we have created our own barriers, and if so, can we change them and make new pathways for online learning?