The Future of Online Learning in Higher Education

The Future of Online Learning in Higher Education

Marshall G. Jones (Winthrop University, USA) and Stephen W. Harmon (Georgia State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-147-8.ch020
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This chapter addresses the future of online learning and online learning technologies in higher education. Our understanding of the use of future technologies can be aided by a better understanding of how we have addressed the use of technologies in our past and in our present. A brief history of the use of technology in teaching and learning serves as a catalyst for a discussion of the near term, mid-range and far term technologies and possible issues associated with them. The authors propose that keeping the focus on human learning instead of specific tools will help higher education take full advantage of online learning in the near and far term future.
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A Brief History Of The Future

Suffice it to say that we in education have a rocky relationship with technology. Saettler (1990) who wrote the book, both figuratively and literally, on the history of American Educational Technology, details how various technologies have, over the years, been presented to educators as revolutionary and bound to change education as we know it. Moving from Edison’s introduction of film, to radio, television, computer-based education, to online learning and everything in between, technology has been heralded as both a savior to education and, in many cases, as a replacement for teachers. After a few decades of this, teachers at all levels became, rightfully in our opinion, somewhat nervous about technology. While it seems unlikely that technology will replace teachers (at least anytime soon), at present we agree with the widely attributed saying “any teacher who can be replaced by technology should be.” And even if technology is not going to replace teachers, but “merely” revolutionize education, professional educators have a vested interest in what happens with technology.

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