The aim of this paper is to provide discursive background to a consideration of higher education's approach to online learning and set out the terms of engagement represented by the articles in this issue.
The paper is in the form of a narrative surveying the state of the discourse on online learning and providing a brief introduction to each of the articles.
The paper finds that history of online education has been compressed into a brief period, but it has already undergone several phases: from initial euphoria over the possibilities for expanded enrollments to a realization that online learning posed a new set of knotty pedagogical and institutional issues, to a current maturing phase. In this latter phase there is a pressing need for a public dialog that addresses the institutional challenges inherent in online education, and that provides examples of successful experiences and even specific guidelines for any institution or program involved with – or considering initiation of – an online program. This special issue of On the Horizon is intended as a contribution to this dialog.
The paper establishes a framework for in‐depth consideration of the issues addressed in this issue of On the Horizon.
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