"Here a hoax, there a hoax, everywhere..."
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Respondents in TS [TS discussion list or in TS? To what are they responding? Would "contributors" be more correct?] and in discussion lists elsewhere are beginning to successfully challenge the many recent and increasingly noisy bromides [Where are the bromides plying their wares? (brief preview of argument) Also, "bromides" is a somewhat insulting term] about the supposed deficiencies of "virtual" versus "classroom" education. I suspect both "virtual" and "classroom" are artifacts of a particular time in cultural history. [Of the same time in history?] We need to get on with understanding the contrasts [between what?] before judging the respective values. [Suggest rephrasing this last statement.]
The Institute for Higher Education Policy report on "What's the Difference? A Review of Contemporary Research on the Effectiveness of Distance Learning in Higher Education" (4/7/99) echoes alarms similar to those found in the College Board's release on the same day (4/7/99) of their critique "The Virtual University & Educational Opportunity". [The comparison is not useful at this point, since no point has been made about either publication or the assertions contained therein.]
However, the Institute's own caveat "...the proportions cited [footnote 36] [The footnotes are confusing. Your e-mail text translated fine to HTML, except for the footnotes in the references. Are these your footnotes, or are they links to bookmarks in References? In addition, is footnote 36 from the IHEP document? If so, we need a citation and a reference, including page numbers] in this section are based on the sample studies examined for this paper... These proportions should not, however, be seen as precise measurements of the literature on the whole" -- must be taken quite seriously. Indeed, it is NOT a "Review of Contemporary Research" as claimed. Half of the selected citations appear to be published from five to fourteen years ago. The activities they describe began and concluded long before the educational use of the Web was even a gleam. And many of these are so-called "interactive" 2 Way TV (with an undetermined cost as much as a thousand times more expensive than using the interactive Web?). [The 2 Way TV example seems to be a compelling example, and would benefit from more exposition. At the very least, more context is needed, in order to highlight the outrageousness of the 2 Way TV example. Also, is "2 Way TV" the exact name of the technology (with regards to capitalization, spelling, phrasing, etc.)?]
The Institute for Higher Education Policy goes on to say that Internet-based education is too new and untested to justify its rapid growth in colleges. [Did they give a rationale for this?] Another serious question [What was the first serious question?] arises when the report bases that conclusion in part on a totally unsubstantiated claim that there is a higher dropout rate of 32 percent for online classes, compared to just 4 percent for real-world classes. [Is any refutation of this readily available? I don't believe the statistic either, but something concrete to oppose it would be useful.]
Most prominent among this recent avalanche of unsubstantiated claims is the College Board report which proclaims: "Part of the promise of virtual technology is to deliver instruction at reduced cost." [but instead, is ADDING] [This insertion in the quote looks like a leading interpretation or an unflattering paraphrase on your part. Could you attribute a direct quote about "adding"?]"...to its cost, not reducing it ...tends to be expensive,...straining education budgets, not relieving them." [These are sparse clips, and could be seen as anecdotal in nature. Given the thrust of your argument in this paragraph, it would be helpful to use some more concrete and substantive quotes] I submit this is a weak and even foolish interpretation being simply laid at the door of technology rather than the administrations. [Why do you believe that technology is being blamed? Again, more substantive citations would be helpful. Also, are you implying that administrations are to blame? That's what it sounds like. If so, argue the point further.]Since the College Board report is largely being directed to education policy makers, this posture is a reckless misrepresentation [of what?], comprised of unfounded anecdotes.
Only by ignoring the fundamental shift in the U.S. "New Economy" can the College Board skirt the absurdity of pleading fractional differences when the dynamics of cost have favorably changed so fundamentally. Technology cost benefits for the poor and everyone else have improved as much as 1000 times over the past fifteen to twenty years., "The Real Cost of Computers" [TS, December] [Which article? Need citation and reference specifics]Have our students been cheated since way-back-when -- about 1990? Then colleges postured their public relations as immediately needing more new revenues "because Technology [must be!] is expensive."[Is this from the same source?]
The College Board report goes on to say "...colleges must realize that a technical divide exists, as only 20 percent of low-income households own a computer." This observation doesn't warrant the stated conclusion [Which stated conclusion? Which part of the previous sentence is the observation, and which is the conclusion]since none did ...only five years ago,.
As touched upon earlier in TS, [Citation and reference specifics?]do Naysayers [Is this part of a quote? If not, why is it capitalized?provide real balance to news reports with only their "anecdotal arguments" to challenge computer use...? The NY Times article "Report Calls for Teacher Training in Technology" by Pamela Mendels, 24 Feb 99, provides a broad view of this recently released report by the CEO Forum on Education and Technology. Retrieved May 16, 1999 from the World Wide Web: But the popular press can bestow credence where none is deserved. For instance, Mendels also cited anecdotal comments by William L. Rukeyser (Learning in the Real World) that learning technology often lacks effectiveness. Such repeated anecdotes are usually highly selective and characterize opinions as "studies" and otherwise present unsubstantiated observations. [Again, your arguments against anecdotalism are themselves anecdotal.]
Here's another recent example in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "The Liberal Arts in an Age of Info-Glut" by Todd Gitlin (5/13/98). Gitlin argues that a liberal-arts education is all the more important today, in the era of the Internet, to anchor a reckless and lightweight culture, ...particularly ...at a time when so much "information" is available online, but so little is done to teach students how to separate the wheat from the chaff. [The structure of the quote and or possible paraphrasing is awkward and long. Frame your interpretation around small, meaningful chunks of quoted material, or offer large, individual chunks of material, with supporting ideas and information from you]"When information piles up higgledy-piggledy -- when information becomes the noise of our culture -- the need to teach the lessons of the liberal arts is urgent" he writes. In a Chronicle Colloquy response, Bart Stephens takes issue with Gitlin's "...perspective held by many of his generation which attended college before the Age of Info-Glut. I found his descriptions alarmist and melodramatic -- I sense a feeling of alienation. I grew up watching MTV and CNN, and I use the Internet daily. Sure, the incredible availability of today's information can be overwhelming, but only if one allows it to be. ... [And it] has cultivated my sense of discretion, if anything. I personally love being able to explore any subject I want in five minutes, then spend hours immersed in history books." [Again, too much quoted material. Help the reader sift through the ideas in the quotes.] Others [Like who?]have pointed out this backlash against the distance learning hype is simply indicative of the success of asynchronous learning.[Have you clearly defined this term in your argument?] New success always threatens embedded institutions. In this context we have to sharpen the meaningful distinctions among the various so-called "distance learning" and "new technology" modes.[I am still not clear about your "context." Why would certain institutions attack such obvious success? Are they feeling threatened, and why? In addition, the delineation between distance learning and new technology is not clearly made. Do attributions for success and failure apply to both distance learning and new technology, or to only one, or to neither? Are critics missing the point of efforts in these areas? Are they not noticing success when it happens? What are your thoughts about their fears and motives? You have a powerful argument against some well-established and powerful institutions. Yet, your theses are not strongly supported and precisely-aimed enough to do any real damage as yet. Saint George needs a strong sword and lots of armor to slay the dragon. Also, I'm not sure how the title of your article is meaningful. I look forward to your next draft.]
[Citations and references need to be in APA style. Some TS citation details are not given, and the intended use of the footnotes is not clear.]
The Institute for Higher Education Policy, "What's the Difference? A Review
of Contemporary Research on the Effectiveness of Distance Learning in Higher
Education" (4/7/99) Retrieved May 16, 1999 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.ihep.com/difference.pdf1>
College Board, "The Virtual University & Educational Opportunity" (4/7/99) Retrieved May 16, 1999 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.collegeboard.org/policy/html/April.pdf2>
CEO Forum on Education and Technology, "Teacher Training in Technology"
(2/24/99) Retrieved May 16, 1999 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.ceoforum.org/3>
The Chronicle of Higher Education, "The Liberal Arts in an Age of Info-Glut"
(5/13/98) Retrieved May 16, 1999 from the World Wide Web: <http://chronicle.com/colloquy/98/liberalarts/background.shtml4>