Learning Online: Stretching Traditional Parameters


Metamodern Education: Learning Online

”Does that piece of paper: the degree, honestly qualify one person’s skill and life experience above that of another individual who has no degree? I think that’s a fair question.”

By Damien Rush

If I’m learning online for free, how’s that $100,000 college loan working out for you? That depends. Good teachers and professors are indispensable to the education process. A facility where hands on experience and clinical study are part of the experience is advantageous. And there are a multitude of online education providers where you can earn your degree without sitting in a single classroom. Unless of course, it’s your virtual living room. The digital looking glass has widened our horizons; from University of Phoenix to Princeton University, online education opportunities abound. For as little as $20,000 “out the door”, you can get a four year business degree online.

There are occupations which we would expect a supervised curriculum and a great deal of clinical hands on practice. The medical profession for example. Karen D. McKeown is a Graduate Fellow in Health Policy at The Heritage Foundation, who obtained her master’s degree in nursing from Yale University, online. This was in conjunction with the previous hands on training she received for her original qualifications. The sciences, chemistry or anything that might cause risk or harm to society must have the benefit of wisdom and discipline of technique. But what about the skills needed to function in the business of everyday life?

“According to a recent Pew Research report, 47 percent of the public believes that the purpose of higher education is to acquire specific skills and knowledge that can be used in the workplace. Among college presidents, 86 percent believe that it is very important to provide skills and knowledge that will be of general value in the working world and 50 percent believe it is very important to provide training for a specific career or profession.” – Source

Learning curves have to adjust to the same information and technology as life does. The mass-marketing of designed obsolescence always pushes the limits of comfort and convenience; through the disruption of comfort and convenience. This is sometimes called Progress.

Pop-culture, the media and abbreviated forms of learning online are changing our paradigms and lexicons. Instead of studying, we listen and instead of discussing we tweet. The nuances and inflections of perspective are what make politics or any other social engagement meaningful. We have over minimized what is complexly organic and over complicated the minimal.

Right, left; conservative, liberal and ne’er the twain shall meet. Capitalism or socialism? Who cares? In the U.S. we’ve seen neither principle exercised in any honest or productive way to date. And who says we have to choose between one or the other? We can have our cake and eat it too, but it would take an overwhelming desire to challenge the “two dimensional” processes of established conventional wisdom.


This report is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce this report in whole or in part is granted. Although permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the suggested citation is: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C., 2010. (View PDF)


What are we learning in school? What are we talking about? Surely not the social graces. How about anything other than the weather? In Iowa the weather is talked about constantly. It’s about the only thing two strangers can openly discuss in public, but there are other significant issues that deserve a society’s attention as well. A well constructed bit of propaganda or a slighted perspective can fracture a society’s capacity for critical thinking over night. Social structures, sex, religion and politics, or institutions; are considered taboo for casual discussion in everyday life.

We are crossing the threshold of intellectual chaos. Digital learning online provides us with almost too much information to disseminate. We have only a superficial understanding of political science, religions and economics. We never learn from history and we continue to vote in the same convenient ways, for the same rudimentary formulas.

The internet provides a range of information. Uploaded by fanatics and academics; from peer-reviewed studies to half-truths and hateful propaganda. You can read a paper from Stanford University and an hour later, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a well circulated piece of anti-Antisemitism derived from fiction). Can anyone really prove or disprove with all the physical evidence at our disposal, that there is other life in the Universe? Or a God, per se? But there is surely enough information online to form some hypothesis for discussion.

Noam Chomsky was asked by a student which media outlet he got his news and information from. Chomsky replied that he relied on no specific source. He covered the stories from many outlets to see which bits of information were being censored or highlighted by which media providers. This was very telling and a great piece of advice.

I’m a fine artist who every step of the way was kicking and screaming as I merged with progress. Internet Technology was the Devil incarnate. I had to meet the enemy, study the enemy and keep him close. Hence my sophomoric attempt at digital publishing and interactive media. With only limited tutelage from other professionals, all I know has come from learning online through sources like YouTube.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that only 25% of the positions to be filled over the next ten years will require a highly specialized degree. With that in mind consider how many technicians, designers and fabricators who never finished high school, have occupied the key positions of design and management during our industrial and technical revolutions.


Metamodern Education. Learning Online.About this course: “Popularized by movies such as A Beautiful Mind, game theory is the mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. Beyond what we call games, it includes the modeling of conflict among nations, political campaigns, competition among firms, and trading behavior in markets such as the NYSE. How could you begin to model keyword auctions, and peer to peer file-sharing networks, without accounting for the incentives of the people using them? The course will provide the basics: representing games and strategies, the extensive form (which computer scientists call game trees), Bayesian games (modeling things like auctions) and repeated and stochastic games.” (Read More)

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