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04 November 2014 @ 11:51 am
Teaching, reaching  
I enjoyed this post from yesterday: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-m-parsons/education-technology_b_6075382.html?&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000023. There has been much in the education news about computers that will grade student work. New apps and programs are being touted with these features. And they all, of course, have their limits.

Now, to be clear, I teach in an online program. That means FTF classes are a thing of the past for me. And I miss them. Not because I fear technology (I have been teaching online for some time now and my evaluations seem to be consistently good; students pass the certification exams; more importantly, most of them are still reading their way through the never-ending stacks of books), but because I do miss the FTF piece where I can connect them to books directly. I still do booktalks in the online forum. I take them on a virtual tour of my office on campus and at home. I have photos of Scout and BH and me on the welcome pages. But I do miss sharing the books in person. Even with students in the graduate program, that time of sharing books in person is a sacred one, and I miss it.

And that is why when I see the online K-12 schools touted here in Texas (and I am sure they exist on other places, too), I cringe. I cannot imagine learning from one dimensional presences when I was younger. How would some of my favorite teachers fared online? Would I have seen the twinkle in the eye? Caught the correcting stare? Seen the smile take over the stern expression? Nope, I would have missed it all. And then I would have been less somehow. As the author of the Washington Post piece puts it, "The biological facts are clear: We primates are adapted for social interaction. Millions of years of evolution have equipped us for the subtleties, dangers, and rewards of face-to-face (FTF) communication. " How can an online K-12 program offer that? It can't, IMHO. It is not much more than lessons-in-a-can, programmed instruction.

Suddenly, I have climbed back into the Wayback Machine with Sherman and Mr. Peabody.

Mr_Peabody_and_Sherman_Jay_Ward

I am back in the 70s completing modules for some of my college courses. While I love that I am thinner and younger, I know that I learned little to nothing from those modules. I went through the motions. And this is what I worry about when it comes to online courses, even at the graduate level. It is possible to go through the motions and finish, graduate. But what about the new job: will that, too, be a matter of going through the motions? If so, we will have lost something incredibly important: a generation of kids. We will have lost their engagement, their enthusiasm, their dedication, their commitment, their connection to others.
 
 
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