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Getting Ready for Distance Education
Distance Education Aptitude and Readiness Scale (DEARS

Dr. Bob Kizlik

Copyright 2007 Robert Kizlik


Perhaps nothing is more true than the old adage that what you get out of something is in proportion to what you put in to it. What you learn is usually in proportion to the effort you make to learn it. I believe that, as I have seen it manifest in a variety of situations spanning more than 35 years in education, including the operation and maintenance of the ADPRIMA website.

In distance learning and on-line courses, there is no substitute for effort and the ability to work independently. Distance learning may be thought of as a change in the locus, venue and perception of where instruction takes place. However, to benefit from distance learning, you must have a temperament that reflects a mix of self-confidence and the ability to seek, analyze, and synthesize appropriate information without constant face-to-face feedback. In a sense, those who profit most from distance education are those who have heightened senses of autonomy.

I have taught distance education courses since the Spring Semester of 2000. The courses I taught were on the subject of curriculum at the graduate level and social studies methods at the undergraduate level. From my experiences with students in these courses, I came to some conclusions about the temperaments that successful distance learners have. The instrument below is a result of my conclusions. It does not ask you whether you like, or are competent using computers, technology, or the Internet. It is meant only as a general guide. Use it for whatever purposes benefit you.

Instructions: Below are statements that describe some of the more important characteristics of self-directed learners. Such learners have a certain degree of autonomy that predisposes them to be successful in a variety of learning contexts, including distance learning or distance education. DEARS is a non-scientific instrument and is intended only to provide general guidance for those considering taking courses or even obtaining a degree via distance education, regardless of the source. Here, distance education means any form of instructional delivery that does not involve continuous teacher student interaction in a face-to-face classroom setting. By assessing yourself on the DEARS statements that follow, you will get some idea of your predisposition and temperament for successful distance education experiences. Rate each statement according to the scale below. And by all means, be honest!

1. - Never
2. - Very infrequently
3. - Sometimes
4. - Frequently
5. - Always

____1. I take responsibility for my own learning.
____2. I am regarded by my peers as a self-starter.
____3. I can stay on task without constant feedback about my performance.
____4. I am a person who is curious about many things.
____5. I often figure out novel ways to solve problems.
____6. I enjoy helping others who have learning needs.
____7. Once I have goals or a set of objectives, I can determine what I need to do to reach them.
____8. I recognize and know how to use feedback about progress on a learning task that I have undertaken.
____9. I am good at visualizing how things would be when they are the way I want them to be.
____10. I am good at logistics. I can determine what is needed and devise a plan for getting it.
____11. I believe that knowledge is largely constructed by the learner, and that teachers are more facilitators of learning than dispensers of information.
____12. I understand how I learn best and often think of ways I can improve.
____13. I know what I believe but I am open to other opinions that may be contrary to my beliefs.
____14. I enjoy learning that is both interesting and challenging, and I am motivated in such situations to go beyond the minimum requirements.
____15. I am able to translate learning objectives that have been set for me into objectives that reflect my own personal style of learning.
______ Total

Assessing The Results

The number you put on the Total line above is explained below. The maximum score you could have is 75. Obviously, the higher the number, the higher your potential to benefit from distance education experiences.

55-75: You should have no difficulty with distance education courses. You have a pronounced sense of autonomy and self-direction.
45-54: You will probably do well in a distance education course, but you will have to remind yourself to stay on task.
30-44: Distance education will be a challenge. You will miss the classroom interaction context a great deal.
29 and below: Distance education is probably not a good idea for you!

If you have comments about this scale, please let me know, as it is a work in progress. send e-mail

Here are some worthwhile resources for distance education
Distance Education and Training Council
KAIROS: Online Journal for Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments
Learners Online
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Distance Education

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Robert Kizlik & Associates

Boca Raton, Florida