I found the arguments put forth in Anson’s article, “Distant Voices” intriguing, however, I wonder how much of it is driven by fear of change and the loss of the “academic institution”. I have experienced almost every form of education possible in my college career. From fully traditional courses, to hybrid classes, distance classes, or completely online courses, I have pretty much done them all, and for me personally, I love the advances and freedom given to students who use online courses. I hesitate to make a blanket statement regarding all online classes, specifically within the subject of English and composition, because the only English class I have taken that is even partly online is this one. All my other classes have been in other disciplines from accounting, real estate, biology, geography, and music appreciation. Yet within each one I felt that I was better equipped to learn at my own pace, review material that was important to me and skip over material I already knew. They provided freedom. And in addition, each class demanded a lot of writing to promote discourse between the students and the professor. This is something I see as a boon to our discipline as we wish to promote writing across the disciplines. To me, the vision Anson presented of “Jennifer” would be heaven and I believe that many universities are on their way to that realization. I would love to see an increase in the amount of courses or even full programs offered online. For many, the availability of online classes is the only way in which they are able to further their education as the time they do “schoolwork” is at 3 am in the morning after they are done with work and the kids are in bed. And in my experience online classes offer a more diverse classroom experience as everyone is required to speak. In a traditional class, many stay silent and you never hear their opinion.
I understand the fear that Anson states of the loss of the quality of education through technology if the transition between the two is not monitored. However, I believe that with the right parameters, online learning can be just as if not more informative than the traditional classroom. And his worries of “non academic providers” taking over the role of teacher indicates to me more of a worry for his job security than the quality of the education provided. The reduction in tenure staff and the increase of part time staff would be a bad thing for the teachers, but does that necessarily equate to a reduction in quality of education? Are part time instructors less qualified to teach than tenured track professor? I don’t think so.