ACUADS paper – The Future has already Happened: Dispelling some Myths of Online Education

by Andy Polaine on November 20, 2005

Recently the Australian Council of University Art & Design Schools finally published the papers from the 2004 ACUADS conference in Canberra.

My paper, co-written with Rick Bennett and Leong Chan, The Future has already Happened: Dispelling some Myths of Online Education, is now available for download from the ACUADS site. Here is the abstract:

As funding for higher education continues to shrink, student numbers steadily increase and international alliances become significantly important, online delivery is often heralded as the ‘direction of the future’ for learning and teaching. However, deep rooted and negative opinions regarding the online learning experience and concerns that technology will replace the teacher accompany the new pedagogical setting.

By paying careful attention to the alignment of course content, learning activities, assessment and learning outcomes, online education experiences can be engaging and rewarding for both student and teacher. However, perceptions often remain negative towards online education, viewing it as simply a cost-saving measure leading to student isolation, inactive participation and absent teachers. This paper aims to outline some myths regarding online education and dispel them as misconceived.

Essentially it argues that many of the issues that sceptics of online teaching and learning have already been dealt with long ago. We all use e-mail and the Internet all the time in our professional capacities, yet there appears to be an institutional failure to appreciate their use in education. This also comes at a time when most of my students spend a great deal of their time online. The community that they have face-to-face at university continues into the virtual realm and, like me, they often run a parallel course (instant messaging each other whilst being in the same room or building).

If any of my students are reading, I would be very happy to hear some feedback in the comments.

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