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Variability: Locus and Focus

Is there a single feature of online learning that defines the format? What feature can explain the continued growth and success of this new educational paradigm? While narrowing down to such a simplistic perspective is dangerous, I aim to argue that the “variability” factor of online education establishes it as a growing field and ensures its continued success in the future.

Variability is the single most important factor of online education. Such variances extend to all facets of the system, both in terms of educator and student function within the system. As an educator the variability of presentation, communication and direction create an individualized system where each student engages in the classroom content on his or her terms. A student in the online classroom benefits from this personalized system and, as a direct result, can invest a greater level of personal involvement in the classroom community. Variability is the essential feature of the community- it is the roadway to success for both educator and student.

Skeptics of online learning will argue that the online system provides only minimal exposure to educational content. Some will cast the image of the student working easily through course content and earning a degree the “easy way.” One should be cautioned by such short sightedness and would benefit immensely from a greater exposure to the online system. The online classroom is a growing one- one from which significant power and effectiveness can provided extensive benefit to all actors in the educational world. At the core of this power is variability- the power source of personalization and customization from which every student can interact and re-define the role as student.

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