Classroom vs. Online Education

A recent comment referred to an article by Randy Cohen in which he addresses a concern about a professor not posting a video-recorded lecture online after classroom attendance started dropping. As the comment stated, students now expect these tools to be available. It is humorous that this has become the norm. I think the professor was right in trying to make the students get back to the classroom. Online learning is great and has its place, but learning in meat-space is also very important.

My last post was about how much I enjoy having online tools to further my education. I do not believe though, that these tools could take the place of the learning I do in real life. The students in this article simply did not want to get up for an 8am class (I remember how hard it was), but learning in the physical classroom cannot easily replace learning on the web.

With the web you can either watch the lecture or not. Being in the classroom is much more engaging. You can react, ask questions, and take personal notes (less likely if you can just refer back to the video lecture). Notes make the experience more personal. You make the material your own when you put it in words you can understand. And if there is any discussion portion to the class, then you are missing a lot of valuable interactions.

Web-learning and distance education are great. I think they partner well with the classroom, but it seems to me that it is difficult to completely replace classroom learning. I could be wrong. Can students thrive in an online only environment?

Andy Burkhardt

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