Each year as part of the check-out process at the end of the school year, the teachers in my school are required to do things like return equipment, keys, library books, etc. We also are required to complete what is called our EdTech Profile. Normally, this profile – on online survey – is an annoyance but just “one of those things” we have to do.
Yesterday, I logged in to take my yearly profile survey and was surprised to find that the survey was different. Instead of asking me inane questions like “how comfortable are you with the internet,” it was asking me questions – a great deal of them – about online teaching.
Huh? Where did this come from? I am not one to readily believe conspiracy theories. I don’t think there are black helicopters circling overhead or that the FBI is watching my blog for subversive language. However, I have read on several informative educational sites that the billionaire playboys turned EdReformers want to see a major shift in teaching and that one of those shifts is towards online teaching.
I am not against online teaching. On the contrary, I am completely FOR online teaching – in some venues. For example, despite the enormously high cost of for-profit universities, I am one of those who took a lot of classes online. These classes were beneficial because in my early years of teaching, the mere thought of sitting in a university lecture hall for hours after work was nauseating. I could work on my own time on my advanced degrees.
I am also in favor of online high schools – especially in very rural areas or when a learner is physically unable to attend a traditional school. However, I am not in favor of making all public schooling online. The reason is simple: face to face interaction with learners if extremely valuable. I cannot tell from an email or a line of text how a student is feeling. I cannot infer meaning without hearing the inflection of a voice, the look on a face, the way a body is held. I am able to adjust my teaching based on how my students are reacting.
Online teaching may be beneficial – it has certainly benefited me in large part on three of my degrees – but it is not beneficial in all circumstances and it diminishes the impact of good teaching.
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