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Online Courses Come in Many Varieties

Online degrees reflect a modern way to learn

“We must abandon conceptual systems founded upon ideas of center, margin, hierarchy, and linearity and replace them with ones of multi-linearity nodes, links and networks.”

George P. Landow, Hypertext 2.0. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1992.

If you're wondering whether an online degree will be as valuable as a traditional, brick and mortar degree you should realize that most of the grievances about distance learning are misconceptions and myths. Online schools know you want skills and credentials and they are committed to providing very quintessential information on modern learning platforms. 

However, because of these misconceptions, online education finds itself always on the defense. The concepts of hypertext and hypermedia aren't new, in the 1960s Theodor Nelson coined the terms, “hypertext” and “hypermedia” and online education uses both of these electronic information gathering devices. But just like traditional schools, the value of education depends upon the degree and the school. Both venues will continue to be important long term strategies for colleges. In other words, in addition to the for-profit online degree, traditional universities also have to provide their programs online as well. The advantage online students have besides the flexibility is that they grant this intrinsic medium that can be seen as inclusive and democratic. Getting an online degree can promote text exploration and eventually access a line of inquiry that might not be included in your hard copy syllabus. Hard copy reading lists tend to project the authority of the teacher's chosen canon which might not stimulate the student to explore outside of this given list. Traditionally, the student isn't expected to work outside of the syllabus. Online education’s strength as well as its most characteristic feature is its relationship to connectivity. In this way, evaluating connectivity might become as important as simple data acquisition that characterizes a traditional degree.

Modern instructors could use this turning point as a teaching opportunity and begin to promote the idea textual explorations and students could discover relationships might not otherwise be linked. In this way, reading material could include a much larger, more reaching body of literature. As a result, a deconstructed learning style would result and it would focus more on categorizing texts than accepting one grouping as deserving exclusive attention.  In this way, online education could be at the forefront of new ways of learning. The literal way hypertext signifies connections may help include texts that would otherwise be ignored and forgotten. Traditionally, the average intelligent reader is not expected to include texts from outside the accepted cannon. It is currently the job of scholars to explore these kinds of  texts and links. Furthermore, the accepted canon of literature is a regarded as a status symbol and to read it can be interpreted as a sign of privilege.  [1]  However it should be noted that in the past, brick and mortar schools that have traditionally employed interdisciplinary team teaching as a way to connect with other texts. Hypertext and hypermedia could help physically demonstrate the enormous potential to improve teaching and learning with what currently exists as text connectivity. The challenge is to influence the faculty at prestigious universities to change their pedagogy and adopt modern methods of computerized, textual exploration.

Finally, online education also has the ability to behave like a normal classroom. Platforms using voice, like the internet can make it possible to provide rich, interactive synchronous, real-time experiences, where everyone connects at the same time and interacts immediately so that non-technical participants feel comfortable. The contents of these sessions (including text, audio, and graphics/slides) can be saved and posted on the Web for later review and benefit of students who couldn't show up live, and also for possible packaging on CD/DVD.

 

[1] Landow, George P. , Hypertext 2.0. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1992. p.152.

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