Thursday, February 03, 2005

Better Education

I found it interesting to read Part 8 of the report regarding formal education. Majority of the experts agreed that most students would be spending more time working on computers for virtual classes, etc. One of the experts mentioned that only wealthier schools would be able to afford the accommidations for such access. Then another expert discussed that it would be, and is, a valuable addition to universities. As an undergrad currently, I have known people that have taken courses online, and the material needs to be learned in a completely different way. The student needs to first of all make sure that their attention is completely toward the online lecture when viewing it, then there isn't the same interaction between the student and professor/ta or interactions between students. My question goes back to whether or not this is actually a good learning technique? I think that if there are going to be classes offered like this the students should have open exposure to that sort of teaching earlier in life. Is the solution to have certain online curriculum needed earlier in schooling to open this technique? Could the extra curriculum be available to everyone, and how?


  1. I still think that it will be very hard to transition schooling to an on-line medium. For all the things that one lacks on a social interaction level, it is no cheaper to conduct classes online. Correspondence courses have been around for a long time, especially in rural, sparsely populated areas like Australia and South Africa. But here, where most people have access to an education, it will be very difficult to make these online courses a feasible and worthwhile option for students.
    I would love to see, however, free online courses produced by respectable institutions. Without the correspondence with the professor, papers and exams it is possible that the cost of such and endeavor be limited to recording a series of lectures and making them accessible online for interested people who are not necessarily seeking a degree. The idea being to foster a well educated populace as well as enabling people interested in specific topics to hear about them from the experts.

  2. Going back to at least the phonograph, people have always predicted that new communication technology will drastically change schools. Someone always guesses that traditional lessons will be replaced by recorded lessons, telephone lessons, video lessons, or computer lessons. It hasn't happened yet, though.

    It's true that these new technologies have affected ordinary classroom activities. Berlitz language tapes and online college courses do exist, but I believe face-to-face interaction with a teacher and other students is usually the most effective way to learn. It also tends to be more enjoyable. I am taking an online course this semester, and often wish I had the opportunity to chat about the reading material with my classmates in person. (Have any of you ever read Asimov's "The Fun They Had"?)

    Digital technology can enhance the classroom experience and allow students to do projects that would otherwise be impossible. For that reason I think concern about a digital divide between rich and poor schools is merited. Children also increasingly need to know how to use computers in order to transition into adult life. But I don't think we're going to see the end of the traditional classroom anytime soon.