Dispelling the misconceptions of online education

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“We read with interest the recent opinion article, “Online learning isn’t as inclusive as you may think,” published by University Affairs in early May. We feel the authors provided a limited perspective regarding online education and online learners. We disagree with several of the authors’ contentions and generalizations, which we outline below. We also direct the authors and readers to sources that may help to address some of the issues the authors raise.

First, the authors suggest online learning provides opportunities to those who might otherwise have been “excluded from or marginalized in higher education.” This is a generalization for which we feel perhaps the wrong words were chosen. At Athabasca University (AU), where we teach, we see no indication that our students come here due to feelings of exclusion or marginalization.

The online educational context in the Canadian landscape is no longer regarded as an inferior experience, a last chance effort to earn a degree, or a simple way to upgrade an elective course for transfer. Rather, we do know that the students pursue programs at AU because they can access quality programs, both undergraduate and graduate, that are flexible and fit their own schedule regardless of their circumstances (e.g., employed full time, family commitments, geographic location). The online context affords them the flexibility to continue their education.” Read more at https://www.universityaffairs.ca/opinion/in-my-opinion/dispelling-the-misconceptions-of-online-education/

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