The lost art of discourse and the unrealized promise in distance education | Conference Paper individual record

We live in a soap-box world where reasoned discourse is being drowned out by shouts of bloggers, talk-show hosts, TV talking heads, letters to the editor, and sound-bite politicians. People are increasingly disinclined to read, listen, reflect, and learn from the insights of others. Although everybody has an equal right to their opinions, not all opinions are equally informed or intelligent. One task of education is to teach students how to develop opinions based on reasoned discourse, a task that is made more difficult by an anti-intellectual popular culture. Distance education affords a possible remedy because it has asynchronous collaboration tools that can, when properly used, facilitate proper discourse. Yet this promise goes largely unrealized, because teachers themselves do not seem to appreciate how much we have lost of the art of reasoned discourse. Here, I hope to show how distance education technology can be deployed in systematic ways that help students to move beyond spouting of opinions to a spirit of inquiry, evidence gathering, analysis, creative synthesis, and conclusion-making based on written discourse with others.

author list (cited authors)
Klemm, W. R.
publication date
  • Computer Conferencing
  • Asynchronous Conferencing
  • Conversation Theory
  • Bulletin Boards
  • Distance Education