After reading most of Communication and Cyberspace, I found that the article "Online Education Unbound" by Paul Levinson, was the article that most sparked my interest. This concept of online education is something that has always been a major issue for me. As an undergraduate at FDU, I had to take 4 distance learning classes (classes the met only or partially online). I hated each with an equal passion. Even though in many instances I was interested in the subject matter, I found having to work through the computer instead of meeting in class an aggrivating undertaking.
Levinson makes the argument that online education can be beneficial because the individual is not tied to a class time and can log onto the internet to complete work at anytime. Granted this may be a help sometimes, but I always found that the lack of structure of having to actually show up to class made it all the more difficult. As out of sight out of mind goes, I would always complete my readings and do my work by often would forget or be unable to get to a computer. I believe that having to actually come to class and participate helps to promote a structure and sense of time management for students.
In addition Levinson makes the argument that though students do not physicaly meet in class, they interact in the same way. I disagree with this point also. Actual human interaction between people greatly differs from meeting in an online environment. The way in which you physically interact with others and present yourself in front of others is one of the great sub-lessons that college gives you. Not many people actually enjoy giving class presentations, but it is a needed skill for the working environment. As an undergrad I also had to take a mandatory speech class. I dreaded this class as I have very bad stage fright, but by the end of the class i was much more comfortable and better at speaking in front of a crowd. This is something that could never be taught in an online environment.
I will say that Levinson makes good arguments about online eduation for the disabled and those who work, but I will say there is nothing like education in class between a teacher and students. Interestingly enough, when this article is taken in conjunction with the article "The Digital Divide" by Frank E.X. Dance a scary thought comes to mind. As online education becomes a larger focus in more schools, what happens to those who are not part of the digital realm? Will there be a possible time when education becomes completely online and there will be those who can't gain access to it? Fellow Students....Any ideas?