Research is an important component of both online and ground based professorship. As matter of concern, trying to differentiate the two is dangerous as more universities move online and adjust the expectations of professors to fit online modalities. The institutions of higher learning have an important contribution to furthering knowledge through discovery and it makes no difference what modality they use. Removing this function can slow the pace of development for the nation by slowing new discoveries and innovation.
The nature of that scholarship may be a little different than that which we find in the laboratories of hard sciences. The far majority of new ideas and scholarship activities don’t require a formal laboratory setting and often can be conducted in virtual format. Modern technology allows for data collection, research, and scholarly writing on a new level.
It could be argued that online tools could allow scholarship to flourish by connecting people, institutions and ideas to expand the body of knowledge. As more research moves online, and virtual libraries expand, information will move from theoretical conception to the practical output as decision-makers become more aware of existing discoveries. Awareness and implementation in the private sector helps grow the nation.
It wasn’t that long ago that only printed forms of research were available and unless a person paid for, was a student, or otherwise provided with a library card to some a large university they would not be able to engage fully in scholarship. Small schools and adjunct faculty simply were not much part of the process. This appears to be changing as information becomes more available and consolidated in online libraries.
Online scholarship can be theoretical or applied; perhaps a bit of both. On the theoretical side a mix of practical experience and scholarly writing can lead to new and profound discoveries. On the applied side those theoretical discoveries are implemented to create practical examples of the theory at work. Practical academics, or pracedemics, can do both research and practical implementation.
Online education doesn’t need to damage, destroy, or negate the function of research in a professor’s life. As a practical matter online education can encourage higher forms of scholarship and at a faster pace than what was seen in the dusty halls of manual libraries by exchanging ideas and information for greater public consumption. The very function of research in today’s society can be enhanced by online education.