Shifting Conversations on Online Distance Education in South Korean Society During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Topic Modeling Analysis of News Articles
Keywords:distance education, online education, COVID-19, topic modeling, news Big Data, South Korea
This study explored the dominant discourses on online distance education (ODE) that emerged in South Korean society before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors conducted a topic modeling analysis of 8,865 news articles published by 24 South Korean media outlets between 2019 and 2021. Using the Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) algorithm and social network analysis software (NetMiner), the top five topics and the top ten words associated with each topic were identified from each period. The authors observed significant changes not only in the number of news articles but also in the depth of the conversations published each year. The results have revealed several key points. First, ODE, previously considered marginal and abnormal, gained in normality across all educational levels in Korean society. Second, ODE discourses have been shaped by the unique cultural, historical, and technological infrastructure in South Korea. Third, a clear division between social-justice-oriented and business-oriented ODE discourses reflect a persistent inequality in Korean society. Finally, ODE discourses matured in 2021, with more critical and realistic perspectives on both the positives and negatives of ODE. The useful implications of such insights for post-pandemic ODE research and practice are further discussed.
Adams, R. (2021, September). Tuition fees from UK students fail to cover costs of undergraduate courses at UCL. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/sep/11/tuition-fees-uk-students-fail-to-cover-costs-undergraduate-courses-ucl
Al-Balas, M., Al-Balas, H. I., Jaber, H. M., Obeidat, K., Al-Balas, H., Aborajooh, E. A., Al-Taher, R., & Al-Balas, B. (2020). Distance learning in clinical medical education amid COVID-19 pandemic in Jordan: Current situation, challenges, and perspectives. BMC Medical Education, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-020-02257-4
Al-Mawee, W., Kwayu, K. M., & Gharaibeh, T. (2021). Student’s perspective on distance learning during COVID-19 pandemic: A case study of Western Michigan University, United States. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 2, 100080. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedro.2021.100080
Aristovnik, A., Keržič, D., Ravšelj, D., Tomaževič, N., & Umek, L. (2020). Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on life of higher education students: A global perspective. Sustainability, 12(20), 8438. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208438
Azionya, C. M., & Nhedzi, A. (2021). The digital divide and higher education challenge with emergency online learning: Analysis of tweets in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 22(4), 164–182. https://doi.org/10.17718/tojde.1002822
Azubuike, O. B., Adegboye, O., & Quadri, H. (2021). Who gets to learn in a pandemic? Exploring the digital divide in remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 2, 100022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedro.2020.100022
Baum, S., & McPherson, M. (2019). The human factor: The promise & limits of online education. Daedalus, 148(4), 235–254. https://doi.org/10.1162/daed_a_01769
Bhuwandeep & Das, P. (2020). Emergency trends of emergency remote education in COVID-19: A thematic literature review. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Research, 2, 5–10. https://doi.org/10.37534/bp.jhssr.2020.v2.nS.id1069.p5
Bligh, B., & Lee, K. (2022). Technology and educational 'pivoting' in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic: Introduction to the special issue. Studies in Technology Enhanced Learning. https://doi.org/10.21428/8c225f6e.fd92e590
Bower, B. L., & Hardy, K. P. (2004). From correspondence to cyberspace: Changes and challenges in distance education. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2004(128), 5–12. https://doi.org/10.1002/cc.169
Bozkurt, A., Jung, I., Xiao, J., Vladimirschi, V., Schuwer, R., Egorov, G., ... & Paskevicius, M. (2020). A global outlook to the interruption of education due to COVID-19 pandemic: Navigating in a time of uncertainty and crisis. Asian Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 1-126.
Bozkurt, A., & Sharma, R. C. (2020). Emergency remote teaching in a time of global crisis due to CoronaVirus pandemic. Asian Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3778083
Bozkurt, A., Marín, I. V., Lee, K., & Cefa Sari, B. (2022). The state of the art in blended learning research in a time of the Covid-19 pandemic Coronavirus diaries in the educational realm. The Tenth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF10) 2022. https://doi.org/10.56059/pcf10.6418
Brassington, L. (2022). The future of digital learning resources: Students’ expectations versus reality. Higher Education Policy Institute.
Coughlan, S. (2021, June). Students: ‘Uni definitely not good value this year. BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-57586742
Cursino, M., & Coughlan, S. (2021, September). Online classes “would not justify high university fees.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-58587568
Fain, P. (2019, January 15). Takedown of online education. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/01/16/online-learning-fails-deliver-finds-report-aimed-discouraging
Garrison, D. R., & Anderson, T. (1999). Avoiding the industrialisation of research universities: Big and little distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 13(2), 48–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/08923649909527024
Hew, K. F., Lan, M., Tang, Y., Jia, C., & Lo, C. K. (2019). Where is the “theory” within the field of educational technology research? British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(3), 956–971. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12770
Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020, March 27). The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. EDUCAUSE Review. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning
Johnston, J. P. (2020). Creating better definitions of distance education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 23(2), 1–6.
Johnstone, S. M., & Tilson, S. (1997). Implications of a virtual university for community colleges. New Directions for Community Colleges, 99, 63-72. https://doi.org/10.1002/cc.9907
Junus, K., Santoso, H. B., Putra, P. O. H., Gandhi, A., & Siswantining, T. (2021). Lecturer readiness for online classes during the pandemic: A survey research. Education Sciences, 11(3), 139. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11030139
Lederman, D. (2020). Will shift to remote teaching be boon or bane for online learning. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2020/03/18/most-teaching-going-remote-will-help-or-hurt-online-learning
Lee, K. (2017). Rethinking the accessibility of online higher education: A historical review. The Internet and Higher Education, 33, 15-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2017.01.001
Lee, K. (2018). Discursive effects of a paradigm shift rhetoric in online higher education: Implications on networked learning research and practice. In N.B. Dohn, S. Cranmer, J.A. Sime, M. de Laat, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), Networked Learning: Reflections and Challenges. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74857-3_4
Lee, K. (2021). Openness and innovation in online higher education: A historical review of the two discourses. Open Learning, 36(2), 112-132. https://doi.org/10.1080/02680513.2020.1713737
Lee, K., Fanguy, M., Lu, X. S., & Bligh, B. (2021a). Student learning during COVID-19: It was not as bad as we feared. Distance Education, 42(1), 1-8. http://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2020.1869529
Lee, K., Fanguy, M., Bligh, B., & Lu, S. (2021b). Adoption of online teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A systematic analysis of changes in university teaching activity. Educational Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2021.1978401
Lee, K., Kim, T-J., Bozkurt, A., Zawacki-Richter, O., Sari, B. C., & Marin, V. I. (2022). Discourses of distance education and COVID-19 in South Korean news between 2019 and 2021: A topic modeling analysis. In Proceedings of The Tenth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF10). September 14–-16, 2022. Calgary, Canada. https://doi.org/10.56059/pcf10.8809
Lewis, L. (2002). The hybridisation of conventional higher education: UK perspective. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 2(2). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v2i2.58
Lewis, R. (1997). Open learning in higher education. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 12, 3–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/0268051970120302
Müller, A. M., Goh, C., Lim, L. Z., & Gao, X. (2021). COVID-19 emergency elearning and beyond: Experiences and perspectives of university educators. Education Sciences, 11(1), 19. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11010019
Nichols, M. (2022). Transforming conventional education through ODDE. In O. Zawacki-Richter & I. Jung (Eds.), Handbook of open, distance and digital education. Springer Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-0351-9_35-1
Owen, J. (2022, September). Attitudes to online learning increasingly positive: Wiley survey. Education Technology. https://edtechnology.co.uk/e-learning/attitudes-to-online-learning-increasingly-positive-wiley-survey/
Palvia, S., Aeron, P., Gupta, P., Mahapatra, D., Parida, R., Rosner, R., & Sindhi, S. (2018). Online education: Worldwide status, challenges, trends, and implications. Journal of Global Information Technology Management, 21(4), 233–241. https://doi.org/10.1080/1097198X.2018.1542262
Pregowska, A., Masztalerz, K., Garlińska, M., & Osial, M. (2021). A worldwide journey through distance education—From the post office to virtual, augmented and mixed realities, and education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Education Sciences, 11(3), 118. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11030118
Radovan, M., & Makovec, D. (2022). This is not (the new) normal. Students’ attitudes towards studying during the COVID-19 pandemic and the determinants of academic overload. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 20(3), 257-269. https://doi.org/10.34190/ejel.20.3.2366
Rapanta, C., Botturi, L., Goodyear, P., Guàrdia, L., & Koole, M. (2020). Online university teaching during and after the COVID-19 Crisis: Refocusing teacher presence and learning activity. Postdigital Science and Education, 2, 923–945. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-020-00155-y
Rashid, S., & Yadav, S. S. (2020). Impact of Covid-19 pandemic on higher education and research. Indian Journal of Human Development, 14(2), 340–343. https://doi.org/10.1177/0973703020946
Russell, T. (1999). The no significant difference phenomenon. Office of Instructional Telecommunications, North Carolina State University.
Seaman, J. E., Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2018). Grade increase: Tracking distance education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group.
Sewart, D., Keegan, D., & Holmberg, B. (1983). Distance education: International perspectives. Croom Helm.
Singh, V., & Thurman, A. (2019). How many ways can we define online learning? A systematic literature review of definitions of online learning (1988–2018). American Journal of Distance Education, 33(4), 289–306. https://doi.org/10.1080/08923647.2019.1663082
Smalley, A. (2021, March 22). Higher education responses to coronavirus (COVID-19). National Conference of State Legislatures. https://www.ncsl.org/education/higher-education-responses-to-coronavirus-covid-19
Stapleford, K. & Lee, K. (in press). Online postgraduate education: Re-imagining openness, distance and interaction. Routledge.
Stevanović, A., Božić, R., & Radović, S. (2021). Higher education students’ experiences and opinion about distance learning during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 37(6), 1682–1693. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12613
Teräs, M., Suoranta, J., Teräs, H., & Curcher, M. (2020). Post-COVID-19 education and education technology ‘solutionism’: A seller’s market. Postdigital Science and Education, 2(3), 863–878. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-020-00164-x
Tilak, J.B.G., Kumar, A.G. (2022). Policy Changes in Global Higher Education: What Lessons Do We Learn from the COVID-19 Pandemic?. Higher Education Policy 35, 610–628. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41307-022-00266-0
UK Government and Parliament (2020). Require universities to partially refund tuition fees for 20/21 due to COVID-19. Petitions. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/324762
Wedemeyer, C. A. (1981). Learning at the back door: Reflections on non-traditional learning in the lifespan. University of Wisconsin Press.
Wilkes, R. B., Simon, J. C., & Brooks, L. D. (2006). A comparison of faculty and undergraduate students’ perceptions of online courses and degree programs. Journal of Information Systems Education, 17(2), 131–140.
Williamson, B., Eynon, R., & Potter, J. (2020). Pandemic politics, pedagogies and practices: Digital technologies and distance education during the coronavirus emergency. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(2), 107–114. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2020.1761641
Woolcock, N. (2021, November). Universities claim shift to online education in pandemic has benefited students. The Times. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/universities-claim-shift-to-online-education-in-pandemic-has-benefited-students-s97m63m07
Xiao, J. (2018). On the margins or at the center? Distance education in higher education. Distance Education, 39(2), 259–274. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2018.1429213
Xiao, J. (2022). Introduction to history, theory, and research in ODDE: Towards an informed approach to ODDE. In O. Zawacki Richter & I. Jung (Eds.), Handbook of open, distance and digital education. Springer Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-0351-9_1-1
Zawacki-Richter, O., & Anderson, T. (2014). Online distance education: Towards a research agenda. AU Press
Zawacki-Richter, O., Marín, V. I., Bond, M., & Gouverneur, F. (2019). Systematic review of research on artificial intelligence applications in higher education–where are the educators? International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 16(1), 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-019-0171-0
Zawacki-Richter, O., & Naidu, S. (2016). Mapping research trends from 35 years of publications in Distance Education. Distance Education, 37(3), 245–269. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2016.1185079
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The copyright of all content published in IRRODL is retained by the authors.
This copyright agreement and use license ensures, among other things, that an article will be as widely distributed as possible and that the article can be included in any scientific and/or scholarly archive.
You are free to
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms below:
- Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
- No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.