Technology and Culture in Online Education: Critical Reflections on a Decade of Distance Learning
This chapter is a set of critical reflections on a decade of digitally driven distance learning on the web with e-texts, online courses, and virtual faculties. It reconsiders the project of building a virtual campus for existing brick-and-mortar universities around online communities—with their many perils and prospects—amidst broader shifts in the global economy. This “brick-and-click” option has been up and running at one particular North American university: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or Virginia Tech, for a decade. And, this analysis recounts the pluses and minuses of this experience. It, first, indicates why many existing offline university practices prevent change, and, second, it suggests how some online functionalities easily accelerate change. Yet, in considering how all universities might be transformed with digitalization, it also worries about what kind of changes, change defined by whom, and change for whose benefit in the larger society?
Most importantly, however, it sees e-learning on virtual campuses as an on-going reinvention of existing university institutions. Such organizational innovation can enable universities to create new learning communities and learned discourses, while keeping many of their traditions alive. Rather than permitting corporate entities to switch societies into shoddy substitutes for present-day universities with very misguided efforts to commodify the forms of higher learning that universities historically have produced, virtual campuses can use online classes to reach both existing and new clients.
KeywordsOnline Learning Online Community Distance Learning Virginia Tech Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.