Teachers’ Invisible Presence in Net-based Distance Education

Agneta Hult, Ethel Dahlgren, David Hamilton, Tor Söderström, International Review of Research in Open, Distance Learning, Nov 04, 2005
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The November issue of IRRODL is now available online. I highlight two papers, beginning with this look at the incluence of teachers in the directions taken by students in online discussion forums. I am most interested in the direction the paper takes at its conclusion: "The main ethical question, in both off- and online learning, is who does the drawing out [of purpose and value in learning]? Is it an external agent (a teacher)? Is it an internal agent (e.g., student’s own motivation or desire)? Or is it a disembodied agent – the invisible hand, for instance, that shaped the Website?" Readers of this website will note that I have consistently argued that it should be the student's own motivation and desire (in other words, autonomous decision-making) and have warned about the subtle and not so subtle manipulations of this by external agencies.
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