I’m a big proponent of using technology as a tool. The internet is wonderful. Computers are amazing. Smartphones are useful. Like any tool, there is a right way and a right time for their use, and using them accordingly improves upon life in many ways, especially education.
With that said, I’m reluctant to engage in teaching online. I know it’s the wave of the future. I know hundreds of higher education institutions sing their praises and offer thousands of courses and hundreds of degree programs all reached without setting foot outside one’s home.
I feel there’s something essential, especially in the teaching of writing, in the personal connection that just can’t be replicated online yet. I conduct classes largely of group discussions which depend on the simultaneous participation of the entire class to generate the comments and questions necessary to bring out true insight.
I’ve never articulated it this way before, but I think that the classroom environment, with so many people, is an attempt at trying to create inspiration. It works more often than you might think (Hey, Socrates knew what he was talking about) but it’s not something that can happen in online.
The various discussion forums, audio casts, and video feeds don’t provide the same spark for inspiration.
But part of me continues to wonder when I will break down and begin teaching online. Maybe there is a way to make that spark happen . . . there has to be, right?