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What I gather from Simonson’s equivalency theory is that it expresses the need to provide a level playing field for our distance learning students. In his theory, Simonson (2015) tells us that equivalent learning experiences should be given rather than identical experiences and also that identical instructional situations for all learners is not beneficial. For simplicity, I interpret it as equivalent over identical instruction because identical instruction will not produce favorable outcomes for our online learner.
So, when educational institutes wish to apply Simonson’s equivalency theory in the development, implementation, and management phases of their distance learning program there is a lot of areas to address. In Simonson, Smaldin, and Zvacek’s (2015) Figure 11-2, they list a lot of administrative and academic functions which would be a great start to begin addressing when creating a distance learning policy. The policy will have to be specifically created for online instruction. For the development phase, I feel it would be important to try and identify any constraints the distance learning (DL) students may face and possible solutions to those challenges. During the implementation phase, there must be some allowable room for deviation such as modifications to address specific student needs, however, the end goals, objectives, and state standards must be kept in mind. During the management phase, I feel a key to success would be to ensure the teachers are provided with quality professional development (PD) sessions specifically aimed at the DL program and students; it should not be the exact same PD sessions as what the traditional classroom teacher is receiving.
Davis and West (2014) advise that pervasive technology use does not always mean that technology is being used effectively or increase learning Davis & West (2014). This idea further reinforces the need to look at the DL program differently and the importance of developing DL programs around concepts such as Simonson’s Equivalency Theory.
Simonson, M. Smaldino, S,. Albright, M. & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Alyn & Bacon.
Spector, J. (2016). Technology integration in schools. Educational Technology Research and Development, 841-851.