A Critical look at Educational Technology from a Distance Education Perspective

Terry Anderson, Pablo Rivera-Vargas


This article focuses on educational technology as applied in the context of programs and institutions that offer completely distance education courses. All education in the 21st century is digital education in that the use of networking, text and image creation and editing and search and retrieval of information punctuates the life of almost every teacher and student.  However, the context of distance education – where all the interactions are mediated, creates a unique and heightened context of digitalization. This paper focuses on two questions: (1) What aspects have not been completely satisfactory in the transit and transformation that education has undergone, from its more traditional, campus-based conception, towards its new configuration marked by the continuous use of digital technologies and environments? (2) In order what are the future challenges that distance education must deal with to support sustainability of this teaching model?

From a theoretical and interpretative analysis, based on the review of relevant articles and documents on distance education, some critical dimensions (limitations, unkept promises and future challenges) the use of digital technologies in distance education is identified and subsequently analyzed. These dimensions evidence how the initial (sometimes excessive) enthusiasm about the insertion of digital technologies in distance education has not (yet?) been fully reflected in reality.


distance education; online education; learning analytics; educational technology; threaded discussion

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1344/der.2020.37.208-229


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