Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Online Education

While I am sure there is a place for online education, it will never hold a candle to face-to-face instruction, guidance and mentoring.  The learning and teaching process is fundamentally about communication and relationships between learners.  Certainly, there are situations where it saves significant resources.  Small, rural schools simply can't hire staffs of teachers to offer 23 AP courses or six foreign languages because they have a half dozen kids to take advantage of them.  There are places where online education provides an answer to a challenging problem.  But too often I hear people talk about online education as some sort of panacea or a viable replacement for classroom education.  These are often the same people who were convinced that VCRs, overhead projectors, ceiling-mounted digital projectors, laptops, powerpoint, hyperstudio, etc. were tranforming tools.  They miss the fact that a good teacher knows his or her students as people, tailors instruction accordingly, forms bonds with his or her students and makes sure that the relationship between learners is a regular and vital part of the classroom experience.  Technology is simply a tool.  Granted, if the point of school is the aquisition of points, grades and test scores I'm completely wrong.  But I don't think that's really the reason we have school.  For more on the subject check out today's NY Times' Room for Debate at    

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