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Is Distance Education a Faustian Bargain?

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Abstract:

The Internet is a hospitable medium for distance learning. Some geography educators fear that distance education confronts the discipline with a moral dilemma, however. One, in particular, acknowledges some of the advantages of distance learning, but contends that it cannot convey the sense of place that is 'the essence of what it means to be a geographer'. This paper is concerned with the morality of distance learning. In particular, it considers educators' obligations to deliver quality education, and to make it as widely accessible as possible. The paper stresses that the key distinction between distance learning and traditional resident instruction is not the mode of delivery, nor is it the distances in time and space that separate students and teachers. Rather, it is that distance learners are a qualitatively different, older population, with different educational needs from traditional on-campus undergraduates and graduate students. The paper argues that geography educators have a moral obligation to serve lifelong learners, an obligation that should take precedence over our allegiance to conventional notions about what constitutes the essence of our field.

Keywords: DISTANCE EDUCATION; ETHICS; GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION; GIS EDUCATION; MORALITY

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098260085216

Publication date: March 1, 2000

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