The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2000 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

Is the Internet a Classroom?

Keith B. Hopper, PhD, RRT PMSI--Project Mentors, Atlanta, Georgia

Thousands of courses in North American higher education have been developed for Internet delivery, but their most distinguishing features in common may be an appalling level of tedium and a vacuum of judicious instructional design. Faculty is pressured (some say bullied) from within and without to incorporate technology, particularly Internet technology. But there is a backlash by some educators who characterize participating institutions as "digital diploma mills," in a "climate of Web worship," and who are "engaged in a frenzied drive to the Web-based cliff." There is little agreement on a theory base for distance learning, which has been described in America as chaotic and confused. Internet course development and marketing have occurred at a furious pace and without a foundation of research.
Respiratory care is already entrained in the online teaching explosion and controversy, and finds itself in the conflicted position of at once attempting to impede postal home study programs while embracing electronic media courses. What do we really know about distance learning, and is it sensible for respiratory care to plunge with all of higher education into the online swamp?
This presentation addresses the following issues:
? What are the categories of distance learning and how can they be compared?
? Are online courses as effective as traditional courses? What does the research say?
? What are the affordances and limitations of current generation Internet courses and development tools?
? What are the potential advantages of online teaching in respiratory care? What are the risks?
? Is online teaching appropriate for education, for training, or both? What's the difference?
? What is the online pedagogy? What teaching philosophies and strategies work?
? What kind of courses and learners are well matched to Internet teaching?
? How are classroom courses converted to Internet courses?
? Does distance learning affect the professional image of respiratory care?
This presentation also presents an original research study on exemplary Internet courses.

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