How to Hollow Out an Education

How to Hollow Out an Education

John K. Davis (California State University – Fullerton, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5051-0.ch008
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Abstract

This case chapter demonstrates how online higher education can best function by keeping student-teacher ratios at levels where intensive instructional interaction remains possible. If economic cost savings are the prime driver in mass online higher education, one-on-one synchronous interaction between teacher and student is minimized. The core problem of mass instruction is that without quality interaction, the educational experience is hollowed out. Essential critical thinking skills cannot be learned without an experienced, engaged partner to provide feedback, qualitative assessment, and guidance. Peer and automated evaluations offer minimal benefit. The costs of online education may be lowered, but only by pushing the student-teacher ratio so high that significant teacher-student interaction becomes impossible. Thus, what makes online education economically attractive threatens to hollow out education by reducing that interaction.

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