The northern coastal parts of Norway represent a vast stretch of fjords, mountains and islands, with many small communities. If a person wants to study at a college or a university he or she may have to travel a great distance. This may not be practical if the person has a job and family.
Before the spread of computers and Internet connections to almost every household, such a person may not have been able to get a higher education at all. But today every University and College who has a Distant Education program can offer those not able to engage in a normal educational process, a possibility to get further education.
Nesna University College is placed at the coast of Helgeland, in northern Norway, surrounded by small communities. So Distance Education should be ideal as a tool for spreading education to everyone who wants it.
Traditionally distance education has been viewed as independent and private learning. But with all the tools now present in Cyberspace, “distance education” becomes “online education“. Online education may still be private, but may also be a group activity, and may involve some of the processes of social interaction, which is present in “face-to-face” teaching.
According to Dr. Linda Harasim, we may state five characteristics for online education:
-Many to many communication
–Text-based communication, and
–Computer mediated interaction.
And then she includes the following:
-Active learning through peer communication, and
–Social process of knowledge building into the overall theory and definition of distance education.
Take a look at her tips on Shaping a Virtual Learning Space, and think about the terms “active learning” and “social process”.