Pages

Friday, April 10, 2015

Online Education Encourages Stronger Scholarship Cultures

One of the greatest advantages of traditional education is its ability to create knowledge based cultures through face-to-face communication.  It is believed that on-campus social interaction creates norms, values, and expectations that lead people to higher forms of scholarship.  This is not always the case when negative cultural influences restrict the ability of students to be successful.  New research shows that online courses help to enhance the scholastic nature of colleges by countering some of the destructive norms in society that limit intellectual growth.

When people interact and socialize with each other they create social expectations that can either lead to more scholastic behavior or lessen that behavior. For example, cultural norms can encourage greater research and knowledge sharing or it can socially restrict the transference of knowledge. When negative cultures are developed in face-to-face environments they can be extremely difficult to reverse. Online education offers the opportunity to create egalitarian learning networks not based in preconceived notions.

A paper in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning discusses how online education with Saudi Arabia female college students not only enhanced their learning but also encouraged positive pro-learning environments (Hamdan, 2014). Online education offers an opportunity for socially restricted individuals to own their education and contribute to their respective bodies of knowledge in a meaningful way.

This issue is not restricted to Saudi Arabia alone and can impact American students as well. Consider how cultural norms may subtly restrict minority students from speaking up in class, become highly educated, or contribute to scientific discovery in a meaningful way. The process of exclusion can occur between genders, in/out groups, people who are different, those who have higher intelligence, minorities and social class.

Online education creates an environment where people can speak freely without all of the subtle cues that leave some with the impression their opinion isn’t worth as much as others. Because of the nature of posting to other students, a natural activity among the younger generation, negative social norms don’t hold as much sway. Professors and students may be completely unaware of the race, religion, gender, or status of the other people in the class unless they self-reveal.

Where people may be naturally dissuaded from engaging in class activities in one setting may actually find themselves thriving in an online environment where they start on equal footing with others. Classmates know students by what they think and post versus their social status. The process of bringing forward various opinions into collaborative learning environments raises the transference of knowledge and the potential for scholarship.

Hamdan, A. (2014). The reciprocal and correlative relationship between learning culture and online education: a case from Saudi Arabia. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15 (1).

No comments:

Post a Comment