Citation: “Higher Education and Online Lifelong Learning: Five Theses.” Academy Exchange, Issue 6 (Summer 2007): 34-35.
Early in the development of my Voice of the Shuttle —- a large website of annotated links started in 1994 to help introduce the Web to scholars —- I was surprised to receive the following email from a member of the general public. Fooled by the ‘shuttle’ in my title (which alludes to a passage from Aristotle), he wrote to say that “as a working engineer I wouldn’t normally have stumbled onto your site, but I just had to see what NASA had to say about the humanities.”
The letter concluded with kind words about the unexpected value he found in perusing a source of humanistic learning.
This letter has stayed with me over the years as a teaser. It was an early sign of the growing importance of the Web in lifelong learning, and also a clue to a puzzle for academics not then well understood and, I am afraid, today even more inchoate when so-called Web 2.0 has amplified through its blogs, wikis, social-networking sites and so on the kinds and amount of online knowledge available to the swelling ranks of those eager, continuously, to know. What is the appropriate role of higher education in online lifelong learning?