Given that so much of the college experience involves building relationships with professors and collaborating with other students, how a more technology-centered higher education system will still accomplish that remains to be seen.
Liz Dyer, How Much Will Technology Really Change Higher Education, GOOD
Online education is a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It tends to be a monologue and not a real dialogue. The Internet teacher, even one who responds to students via e-mail, can never have the immediacy of contact that the teacher on the scene can, with his sensitivity to unspoken moods and enthusiasms.
Mark Edmundson, The Trouble with Online Education, NY Times
Why is there this continuing belief that technology cannot improve relationships? And why is this issue always presented as such a false dichotomy? More technology = less personal relationships?
It is simply not true (and thank you Nathan for pushing back against Mr. Edmundson with far greater clarity and eloquence than I can muster).
The real argument that Edmundson is making, and it is actually a good one, is that there are pedagocial benefits to interactive and responsive learning environments. Where he fails is wrongly assuming that human interactivity is solely the business of the offline and impossible online. This is plainly false.
Ask any person who has even remotely experienced the social media revolution of the past 5-7 years (and going much farther back if you include the world of forums and other types of online communities) the question, “has online technology brought you closer to people, or has it made you feel more isolated from people?” and I think the answer from most people would be quite clear.
Personally (and despite the protestations from those who argue otherwise), the dichotomy that online is less fulfilling or somehow lacking vs face to face just doesn’t ring true with my own experience, and with the experience of many of the people I know.
Online has not replaced face to face for me – I still go for beers with my buddies with the same regularity that I did before I lived online. But it has augmented it to such an extent that I can hardly keep a straight face when presented with arguments otherwise.
Can’t build relationships? No collaborating with others? No dialogue? Lack of immediacy? Bah. All views of people who still have their feet firmly planted in a world I left behind long ago.