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ERIC Number: EJ873992
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 21
ISSN: ISSN-1552-3233
The Distancing Question in Online Education
Russell, Glenn
Innovate: Journal of Online Education, v1 n4 Apr-May 2005
Intellectuals in many fields have long argued that, as the distance between people increases, the possibility for genuine empathy between them decreases. In this article, the author argues that distancing has as-yet unexplored pragmatic consequences in online education. As he has argued elsewhere (Russell 2004), distancing can be understood as "a separation in time or space that reduces the empathy that a person may have for the suffering of others." Distancing results from human, mechanical, or electronic agencies. When one person walks away from another, uses mechanical means to travel, or uses online communication, distancing is likely to occur. Face-to-face communication, the standard of the traditional classroom, is the "paradigmatic social context and medium," and it is critical for interpersonal processes. In contrast, online technologies have a reduced capacity to support affective relationships. The growing use of online education, including the development of virtual schools and universities, has not been accompanied by an adequate consideration of both the cognitive and affective domains. In particular, notions of empathy and responsiveness have not been sufficiently explored in classrooms where online computers mediate the geographic and temporal separation of students and teachers. Although he provides little new empirical data on these issues, the author reconceptualizes the problem of distancing, and proposes strategies for overcoming the problems arising from the use of conventional online models.
Fischler School of Education and Human Services. Nova Southeastern University, 1750 NE 167th Street, North Miami Beach, FL 33162. Tel: 800-986-3223; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia