Sunday, November 7, 2010

Online classes - the future of education?

New York Times

Like most other undergraduates, Anish Patel likes to sleep in. Even though his Principles of Microeconomics class at 9:35 a.m. is just a five-minute stroll from his dorm, he would rather flip open his laptop in his room to watch the lecture, streamed live over the campus network.

On a recent morning, as Mr. Patel’s two roommates slept with covers pulled tightly over their heads, he sat at his desk taking notes on Prof. Mark Rush’s explanation of the term “perfect competition.” A camera zoomed in for a close-up of the blackboard, where Dr. Rush scribbled in chalk, “lots of firms and lots of buyers.” [...]

1 comment :

  1. In the several years that I've seen intelligent & dedicated baalei teshuva take to talmud Torah, I have witnessed among them several who have made real strides. And I am acquainted with several more, frum some decades already, who are now growing talmidei chakhamim. While that may not be the trajectory for your typical BT, clearly it does happen.

    So imagine if you were trying to teach someone to learn Talmud properly via an online internet class--a venue where the talmidim can get up at their leisure & microwave rice like the student in the article. How many successful lambdanim will you produce? Zero. What's more, most will believe (erroneously) that they actually absorbed what was taught...!

    What we are witnessing here is education as such gradually becoming--outside of certain religious circles--a thing of the past. Education proper requires a level of activity & forcibly disciplined engagement not readily possible through the passive outlet of electronic media, which is well suited to imparting some informational core for the purposes of training, not educating. The craft of writing, for example, is likely to suffer immensely, as will that underlying abstract sophistication required for all areas of pure mathematics. And all areas moral & aesthetic are likely to become even more vulgar, confused, & bejargoned than they already are.

    Perhaps for an enlightened few who understand some of this, a new education model will crop up consisting mostly of short daily private tutorials supplemented by the more passive online segments, so that e-media will end up augmenting the homework branch of schooling and end up as well focusing the classroom branch into a one-on-one venue such as the elite English undergraduates get in their colleges (most notably Oxford & Cambride). That would certainly improve efficiency for all, teachers & students alike. But for it to arise, there has to be conscious demand. In American circles especially, such demand will ever remain highly improbable.

    On another note, what a BUSINESS schooling has become! I mean that in the worst way. It's enormous, and even more an enormous rip-off. Hopefully all this will lead to more competitive pricing.


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