Rethinking the accessibility of online higher education : a historical review

Lee, Kyungmee (2017) Rethinking the accessibility of online higher education : a historical review. Internet and Higher Education, 33. pp. 15-23. ISSN 1096-7516

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The rapid growth in online higher education, in terms of course offerings and student enrollment, has often been celebrated on the grounds that moving education online is an innovative way to increase the accessibility of university education. This article problematizes a range of assumptions that underpin those claims. To do so, two concepts are deployed: “authentic accessibility” and “programmatic definition”, each of which encourages us to examine actual practice rather than aspirations. This article further deconstructs the commonly held perceptions of online education by presenting conflicting discourses about the purposes of distance education, the characteristics of distance students, and the technologies that have mediated distance education throughout its historical development. The findings highlight the increasing multiplicity of online education practices and realities, and the limitations of typical conceptualizations of those phenomena, which have historically conceptualized distance education as a single domain. The article calls for a more sophisticated approach to considering the quality of online higher education, a value judgement which continuously needs to be understood and discussed in relation to the complex and multi-dimensional issues of increasing the accessibility of university education.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Internet and Higher Education
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Internet and Higher Education. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Internet and Higher Education, 33, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2017.01.001
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? online higher educationdistance educationhistory of online educationauthentic accessibilitydisadvantaged studentseducationcomputer networks and communicationscomputer science applications ??
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Deposited On:
12 Jan 2017 16:46
Last Modified:
13 Nov 2023 00:19