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July 10, 2011

One of the problems of studying some matters (like pacing) is that, somehow, one never knows if the study concentrates on the chosen theme or is wandering to a wider reflection over e-learning/distance education. There is this problem with excessive access to literature, where the next paper is only a few clicks away (sometimes with the help of friends in good places – thanks, MPP). I got to be a very good client of the small sellers of, especially from ex-library books at 1 penny (plus handling, usually below €5 depending on exchange rate).

Anyway, recognizing the problem is a step to the cure, as it is said. Or not. In pacing, other problems reveal themselves. Pacing is more of a problem with always on access to the Internet and portable machines; doing more in less time is the motto. Can you do more in less time? Yes. Do you get to know the subjects you study this way? No.

Like in the size of portable calculators, where the limit is set by the size of your fingers (keyboards), there is a limit for pacing. I admit it is not easy to allow for the long periods common in correspondence study, but cramming everything in short periods is like skimming over the subjects. Students get the idea of things, some or lots new to them, but they do not “know” afterwards. Unless the whole idea is to assess if a student is able to do it on her/himself, the point of rushing through e-learning courses is weak, so to say.

More about this latter. These reflections came about after I finished reading:

MThorpe (1998). Assessment and ‘third generation’ distance education. Distance Education 19(2): 265-286.

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