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Online Learning and the Lowest Common Denominator

How do you know online learning is reaching mainstream status?

Well, you could look at the online education proposals included in the second round of Race to the Top competition, the numbers of students and parents taking online courses according to recent studies, or even the emphasis on online learning in the Obama Administration's education technology and broadband plans.

But you REALLY know it's big when you find out that Online Education for Dummies is available at your local book store. Or on the Web, of course.

Authors Kevin Johnson and Susan Manning aim to help students understand how to learn in online courses as well as how to choose the right course in which to enroll. While that might sound self-explanatory, several online learning experts I've talked to have said so much focus goes into training virtual instructors that helping virtual students adjust to an online classroom sometimes gets ignored.

The book, which came out late last year, progresses from an introduction regarding just what online classes are, to how to choose a class and enroll, to how to succeed in class, to special considerations regarting virtual education, to a conclusion that dispells myths about online education and points toward nationally recognized online schools. All that in just a smidge over 300 pages. (Relax, you'll be reading it on a Kindle so it won't feel so heavy.)

Take a look at the table of contents and the first chapter. No word on whether a fully online version of the book is coming out, or whether publishers think that would be dangerous for their target audience.

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