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Letters: Two views on Internet education

March 20, 2013

Re "Give online courses the old college try," Editorial, March 18

As academic administrations continue their lurch forward into the 21st century, I see that The Times endorses a flirtation with online "education" in the California State University system.

This comes at the very time when many big corporations are ditching the notion of working online from home, because, well, it isn't really a good or productive concept. These corporations, Yahoo among them, realize that creativity and innovation happen when actual people get together in an office or, I'd say, in a classroom.

I've taught for nearly three decades in the Cal State system. I can tell you that classrooms are far from the tidy online "environment." But that's the genius of the classroom: real people engaged in real conversations and coming up with unexpected epiphanies. It happens all the time in a good class. It doesn't happen much in cyberspace.

Buddy Roberts

Los Angeles

The writer is a lecturer in Cal State L.A.'s English department.

My company has been offering online college courses for eight years. Our instructors receive an e-mail whenever a student posts a query on the course discussion board. The student will, within 24 hours, receive an answer or a request for clarification. Responses vary from a few words to several pages in length.

Try getting this sort of response in a physical classroom or tracking down a college instructor after class.

Can taking online courses satisfy college requirements? If the college allows courses to be completed by examination, the training online classrooms such as mine provide may improve a student's chances better than if he were left to track down help from an unwilling instructor at a physical college.

Dorothy LaGrandeur

Huntington Beach


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