As I have said before, if you cover higher ed, you have to write about online learning. If your beat is narrowly drawn to cover only schools that don’t offer it, then that’s a story too: why not? All the better if you show what the actual course-taking or -teaching experience is like, which given the nature of the endeavor is no small feat. It is difficult to achieve a compelling and illuminating level of descriptiveness about someone typing on a computer.(The lede of the story about me writing this blog item would include messy hair, frequent toggles back to e-mail, and lots of pauses while I lean my chin on my hand, thinking. And any sane editor would send it back for more.)
But it’s not impossible, as you can see from Tomorrow’s College, Marc Parry’s piece this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the mashup of face-to-face and online learning becoming ubiquitous on many campuses. I love how Marc shows us the rhythm of these students’ learning and studying, is not afraid to pull back and make unattributed assertions gleaned from thorough reporting, and lays out the pros and cons through the students’ own observations. It doesn’t hurt the power of the story that a woman admits to cheating, though it may hurt her week.