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Online Degree Navigator’s Lesson One: Is Online Education inherently a medium that can easily envision a more democratic epistemology simply because it’s online?

Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian scholar coined the expressions, “the medium is the message” and “global village” that prophetically predicted the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented.  Although the professor was a controversial figure, his clarity of how the medium constructs the possibilities of the message has held a significant truth about how we perceive information. Our medium, or more specifically, our advances in technology are cultivating consumer participation. Our culture is being changed by the active participation in social networks. We are breaking down the barriers of formality and participating in village or friend-like discourse with slang or punctuation that symbolizes the way we speak and how we feel.

How can educators link an education theory to a pedagogy that could shift the overbearing culture of power knitted into higher education that still maintains the hierarchical separation between dominant and subordinate groups? Why wouldn’t educational institutions take this opportunity to let the medium be the thing that enables education to more fully democratize the way we educate?  If language equates with reality, we need to give clear descriptions of the continuing democratic struggles of those groups that aren’t in the ruling regimes and how the groups in power transfer that power into knowledge we take for truth. Traditionalists of education theory still suppress important questions about the capitalistic interests and the legitimizing ideologies of the ruling class. Educators need to, “unravel how schools reproduce the logic of capital through the ideological and material forms of privilege and domination that structure the lives of students from various class, gender, and ethnic groupings.” [1] Do we really want to transform students into obedient workers for industrial capital?  Are we trapping teachers into, “an apparatus of domination that works with all the certainty of a Swiss watch?” [2]

I think that teachers should have a social and political function in the discourse of educational democracy to produce curricula that promotes the sharing of power.  We need clear understanding of how certain modes of education carry a message of someone’s particular interests. This historical hegemony needs to transform in order to develop into a better way of life. We should want to transform schools into democratic spheres so that students and teachers can work together to produce a language and a vision for democratic renewal.

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[1] Giroux, Henry. 1988. p. xxix. Teachers as Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning.  Bergin & Garvey Publishing,Westport.

[2] Giroux, Henry. 1988. p. xxxi. Teachers as Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning. Bergin & Garvey Publishing,Westport, CT