However, the way we think about online learning is inadequate. Attitudes generally fall into one of two prevailing camps: online learning optimism and pessimism. Both sides are entrenched in meaningless, largely unproductive opposition, perhaps because both perspectives talk past one another in advancing valid points.
Optimists see online learning as inevitable, driven by demand for greater efficiency. Pessimists see institutions abusing government programs and uninformed consumers to maximize profits while undermining or even mocking quality of learning outcomes as a concept.
Within this polarized mix of ideas rests an underappreciated but important third perspective: online learning realism.
I’ve been part deeply involved with online teaching and learning since before the turn of the century. While I understand the pessimistic viewpoint, I’ve been an optimist and a realist from day one.