, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 167-180

Kierkegaard and the internet: Existential reflections on education and community

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Abstract

If the rhetorical and economic investment of educators, policy makersand the popular press in the United States is any indication, thenunbridled enthusiasm for the introduction of computer mediatedcommunication (CMC) into the educational process is wide-spread.In large part this enthusiasm is rooted in the hope that throughthe use of Internet-based CMC we may create an expanded communityof learners and educators not principally bounded by physicalgeography. The purpose of this paper is to reflect critically uponwhether students and teachers are truly linked together as a``community'' through the use of Internet-based CMC. The paper usesthe writings of Kierkegaard, and Hubert Dreyfus's exploration ofKierkegaardian ideas, to look more closely at the prospects andproblems embedded in the use of Internet-based CMC to create ``distributed communities'' of teachers and learners. It is arguedthat from Kierkegaard's perspective, technologically mediatedcommunications run a serious risk of attenuating interpersonalconnectivity. Insofar as interpersonal connectivity is an integralcomponent of education, such attenuation bodes ill for some, andperhaps many instances of Internet-based CMC.