MA in Online and Distance Education

I’ve just started the first unit of an MA with the Open University. Since it’s about online education I’ve decided to start blogging here again.

I was interested to see how the OU works and whether it would engage me. It’s early days yet but I have already had to think a lot. You discuss things in web forums instead of seminars. The process is slower, but you have more time to deliberate over your position. I’ve written a few stupid or self-contradictory things, but am able to see them in black and white and sort it out before I click “post”. That’s a good thing, I think. Forces you to strengthen your arguments.

Our topics this week have been about the truth of a so-called First Law of Technology:

…we invariably overestimate the short-term impact of new technologies while underestimating their longer-term effects.

One example being printing, which had unexpected long-term effects of kick-starting the Reformation, creating professions and redrawing the boundaries of childhood. Another being the web, which people overestimated the short term effects of (I thought the dot-com boom/crash was a fair example of this). The long term effects of the web are as yet unknown, but writers such as Thomas Friedman have predicted that it will / has already ushered in a third age of globalisation (see: The World is Flat)

The other task I was working on today was about how different age groups use the web / libraries to do research. Whether we can divide people up into Digital Natives / Immigrants. Interesting stuff, which follows on from work I did as part of my PGCE.


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