One of the catch phrases of distance ed is “anywhere, any time.”
The internet changes that. I’m starting a stint as adjunct faculty at Morehead State teaching a graduate course on the principles of distance ed and one of the issues I’m wrestling with is how to deal with the reality of time. The first challenge is to get hardcore classroom people to understand that, in a distance education course, the course meets now — at any particular now the student may percieve — and that has profound effects on the relationship between teacher and student. While synchronous communications modes require the participants to share a “now” regardless of time zone, but the majority of communications are asynchronous which creates some tension between teacher-time and student-time.
I think the answer has to do with a modification of the power-structure in a course, but it’s clear that online education is not “anywhere, any time” so much as “everywhere, all the time.”