Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Teaching in cyberspace

For the past few days I’ve been learning how to teach on-line. Not that I’ll be doing it for awhile, but I’m working up to it. I hope to use some on-line features in my standard, classroom media-writing course this winter term at Portland Community College.

On-line teaching is destined to be the education of the future, especially as a financially strapped society searches for ways to cut costs in the public sector.

Imagine, no schools, no reunions, no proms, no school buses, no pep rallies, no student councils and no lunch hour cliques.

The institution of on-line teaching is like computerizing health records to cut healthcare costs. Or like using pilotless drones to fight wars.

Of course from the teacher’s perspective there will be no classroom histrionics. No pacing in the front of the room, no raised eyebrows, no dramatic pauses, no feigned looks of astonishment or cheers of congratulation.

I agree with those who say that 90 percent of communication is visual. Accordingly, on-line teaching will leave a lot to be desired. How will the teacher pick up on a student's look of confusion, or scowl of skepticism, or smile of recognition?

No, the medium will BE the educational message. I’ll learn to incorporate video into my teaching and even some music. Rap perhaps.

Production values will be important. Students may select courses and choose entire majors because of them.

Education as show biz.

Sex and violence, anyone?

Canned applause? Laugh tracks?

Can commercials be far behind?

Welcome to the University of Sesame Street.

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