Over the past decade, distance education has changed the dynamics of the traditional learning environment. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the most commonly used technologies in distance education, besides print, are asynchronous computer-based instruction, two-way interactive video, and one-way prerecorded video. Although distance education meets the educational needs of some of its participants, frequently there are issues to be dealt with. For instance, although online courses offer a number of solutions to the inequality of the “digital divide,” a term used to describe the disparity in access to technology that exists across certain demographic groups. See Armstrong (2000) and Attewell (2001), as cited in Soker (2005) question whether online instruction contributes to the “inclusion” of nontraditional students or does it on the contrary cause “exclusion,” or create new barriers for these students. Of the growing number of nontraditional students that enroll in online courses, a severely overlooked but expanding population is comprised of African-American women. From this analysis, it is clearly shown that there are certain attitudes that African-American women have concerning online learning, that race and gender have an impact on the confidence of African-American women when compared to Caucasian students in online collaboration and discussions, and that there are certain group dynamics that African-American women prefer while participating in online discussions.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Gender Identity. How a person sees himself or herself: whether masculine, feminine, or somewhere in-between. Gender role is the objective, public presentation in our culture as masculine, feminine, or mixed. For most people, gender identity is consistent with gender role (as when a man has an inner sense of his masculinity and publicly acts in ways that support this feeling
Discourage: Deprive someone of confidence, hope, or the will to continue. Dishearten, dispirit, intimidate, deject, prostrate, unnerve, dampen, dismay, daunt, demoralize, set back, Antonym: encourage, hearten. And seek to prevent (a person or an action) with advice or persuasion. Warn, dissuade, alarm, scare, deter, restrain, obstruct, impede, check, inhibit, repress, curb.
Constrain.: Force, to compel. Thesaurus: impel, oblige, urge, necessitate, drive. To limit the freedom, scope or range of someone. Constrict, bind, tighten, restrain, confine.
Ethnicity. A term which represents social groups with a shared history: sense of identity, geography, and cultural roots which may occur despite racial difference
Race: The term race describes populations or groups of people distinguished by different sets of characteristics and beliefs about common ancestry. The most widely used human racial categories are based on visible traits (especially skin color, facial features, and hair texture) and self-identification.
Online Course: Defined as one for which all regularly scheduled classroom time is replaced by required activities completed at distance and managed online. Online courses allow students to take courses from geographically remote locations, without any need to come to campus (for instance, while deployed in the military).