Exploring the Potential for Unintended Consequences in Online Learning

September 22, 2005


The literature is rife with predictions about the potential impact of online learning. What do we know about predicting unintended consequences that might result from using the Internet for educational purposes? This paper reviews several conceptual frameworks that guide those who believe that technology influences who-we-are as humans and what we can become. It then reviews various predictions of unintended consequences that could result from using the Internet for students and their learning, language acquisition and emotional health, their sense of community, control, and self. Another section discusses predictions for the impact of the Internet and online learning on higher education institutions. Several lines of research are described that could provide important “canaries” to warn us of unintended consequences prior to their becoming a reality and a danger.

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