We’re sucking at the firehose of information. We’re not yet teaching students how and when it might be appropriate to put the hose down.
During my sabbatical, I’ve watched for-profit online learning vendors breach the university gates. This has left a bad taste in peoples’ mouths about online learning. There’s some hand-wringing–appropriately so–about how online learning might suck the life out of university practices as we know it.
Online learning is not inherently bad; in fact, online resources are the best thing to happen to education since the pencil, another remarkable, lightweight tool that made student learning mobile but was pretty much abandoned as a tool for innovation. Why did the pencil get deployed in ways almost identical to the fountain pen? Because people saw it as a cheaper version of the old thing, and didn’t look beyond that. Why is online learning perceived to be a poor man’s version of f2f? Because people are treating it as a massively scalable (read: cheaper) version of the old thing.
And what is that old thing, exactly? It’s not college as you and I experienced it, dear reader. (You and I were in graduate school when cell phones went mainstream, weren’t we? Didn’t I see you with that ungainly shoe-sized thing pressed to your ear as we loitered outside before the Milton seminar?)
Check out Mike Wesch’s first remix (released today) of early submissions to his new project “Voices of Students Today (2011).”
Disconnected. Programmatic. Will this be on the test? If somebody sez in my class they might as well be at home on the couch, I’m not educating them. I have to provide what Google can’t: judgment, wisdom, skepticism, compassion. A unifying vision they’re at liberty to pull apart, rebuild. Tell me a better story, a truer story. Explain. It’s not just the facts, ma’am. Stay on the couch if you like. We can chart new terrain from there. But drop a pin to mark the start, because we’re not going to stay on your couch for long.
Stalwarts say students today want to be entertained, coddled, coaxed into learning. If we’re approaching students with shoe-sized phones pressed to our ears, pretending things haven’t changed, how will we be able to hear them?