How to Generalize
Hrastinski, S. (2009). A theory of online learning as online participation. Computers & Education, 52(1), 78–82.
Hratinski's article centers on student participation, empirical evidence to back up participation's use in learning, and how participation can be applied to online learning. It begins by drawing attention to student participation as something educators have only recently begun to value and spends a lot of time driving the value of participation home. Finally, he concludes that learning and participation are one and the same where online learning is concerned.
This article reads as an in-depth literature review to support one central statement: that, in order for online learning to really take place, the major focus must be student participation. While he encourages other researchers to examine and debate this theory, he conducts no first-hand research to specifically support it in the article. That being said, the theory he presents is broad and the way his evidence is presented makes a compelling case.
I appreciated the both general and scientific approach that this paper adopted while examining online learning. Generally, articles will look at online learning from either the teacher's or the student's point of view. Hrastinski was very careful not to examine teacher to student or student to student interaction too much, but considered them all to be useful forms of participation. Often the articles we read through will focus on semantics and details of learning, such as what approach works for which subject or what kind of student, when the real focus is generalizability to all students, teachers, and content.