Magazine article Distance Learning

Britannica (Not Wikipedia)

Magazine article Distance Learning

Britannica (Not Wikipedia)

Article excerpt

Wikipedia begins its explanation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica by saying:

The Encyclopædia Britannica is a general English-language encyclopaedia published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., a privately-held company. The articles in the Britannica are aimed at educated adult readers, and written by a staff of about 100 full-time editors and over 4,000 expert contributors. It is widely regarded as the most scholarly of encyclopaedias.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says this about Wikipedia:

free, Internet-based encyclopaedia operating under an open-source management style. It is overseen by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation ... a troubling difference between Wikipedia and other encyclopaedias lies in the absence of editors and authors who will accept responsibility for the accuracy and quality of their articles. These observers point out that identifiable individuals are far easier to hold accountable for mistakes, bias, and bad writing than is a community of anonymous volunteers, but other observers respond that it is not entirely clear if there is a substantial difference. Regardless of such controversies-perhaps in part because of them- Wikipedia has become a model of what the collaborative Internet community can and cannot do.

Certainly, even today in the age of googling and social networking, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is considered to be one of the most prestigious references and resources for general information about almost any topic. Reviewers claim that the Britannica covers "all human knowledge."

Until recently "all human knowledge" did not include distance education; now it does. In the 2009 Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year, distance education/learning is explained and defined (in the past tense, by the way) on page 231.

Four characteristics distinguished distance education. First, distance education was by definition carried out through institutions; it was not self-study or a nonacademic learning environment. …

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