Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Re: Relaxation of peer pressure in distance education (was Paradigms...)

From: "Brad Jensen" <[log in to unmask]>

> From: [log in to unmask]
> While I disagree with Brad that knowledge is an abstraction,
> because when I walk my knowledge walks, I agree with him that virtual
> experiences are no different from so-called real experiences. Even when we are
> with people, what we experience is not them but our perceptions thereof. There
> may be exceptions to the above such as the Biblical allusion to "knowing" a
> woman ;-)
Well, that is certainly an abstraction, or perhaps at best an unreachable

Your physical experiences are input from your own senses, not 'facts in
themselves.' For example, the headache you get when you eat ice cream is
actually misplaced pain from the stimulation of the vagus nerve in your

> Where Brad may have entered new territory is in articulating
> the observable fact that students are "distracted from placing their full
> attention on the lesson by the overpowering social needs - culminating in
> self-image and social standing - created by classroom interaction."

Moore's description of 'transactional distance', while interesting, seems
simplistic, and in any case, does not seem central to the 'distance' of
distance education.

> In Japan it is an observable fact that peer pressure and its consensus can tip
> a class wholly for or against a lesson or teacher.

I once had several Japanese visit my business, in the process of selling the
rights to a software package to a Japanese company. The business
facilitator, who I considered partially acculturated to America, explained
that my own path of going out on my own, inventing software by myself, and
setting up a company to sell and support the software, all without input
from family, friends, or peers, would be considered the high of insanity in

> While some Westerners can believe that they don't care what their neighbors
> think of them,

The last time you saw a person sitting alone at night in a restaurant, what
did you think?

> hardly anyone acculturated or acculturated to Japanese culture would believe
> that. Their self-image derives mainly from their social standing. Most would
> rather be liked than to get good grades. Homework is the one place where they
> feel no peer pressure, which reveals incredible potential for distance
> education for the billions of East Asians and others with this cultural
> learning characteristic of vulnerability to peer pressure. Learning
> inhibitions may, furthermore, be caused not so much
> by the teacher as by the whole structure of the classroom, the larger the more
> so, whereby it becomes a public experience, whereas learning benefits from
> relaxation and is
> more decidedly personal.
> Collegially, Steve McCarty, Professor, Osaka Jogakuin College, Japan
> President, World Association for Online Education (WAOE) Related articles at:
Very interesting observations.

I believe in the tremendously liberating influence of distance education,
and of the Internet.

Brad Jensen

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