Digital Myopia – Online education as information pushing

My email today included a TOC alert for the Journal of Interactive Learning Research 16(4). There was more than one article that looked interesting enough to be followed up when I have a few minutes but one caught my eye and demanded immediate attention:

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2005). Online learning as information delivery: digital myopia. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 16(4), 353-367.

Digital myopia is derived from the concept of marketing myopia which has been around for a long time and was used to describe the demise of the buggy whip manufacturing industry following the advent of the automobile and the near death of the Hollywood movie industry in the face of television. In each case, so the logic runs, the problem was a business focused on producing and selling products rather than on serving customers. A wider view of the enterprise would have facilitated change that might have let the buggy whip manufacturers shift to providing other products or services in transport and the movie houses move more quickly into the broader entertainment business.

The authors make a strong argument that education is similarly focused on product rather than customer, in this case delivering information and degrees rather than offering students opportunities to learn. They report on research into the design of authentic approaches to online learning, including the challenges faced by teachers who attempt to take that path.

It’s a good read and it echoes some concerns I have had about our own institutional focus on content as the central element of online education. It’s not that I don’t think some content might be useful, or even necessary, if done well, but there is more to online education than content.