Monday, November 22, 2010

Top 10 problems with on-line learning...

I was inspired to write this based on this blog Top 10 Reasons Why Learning Online is Better.

I read the 10 reasons and I was taken aback a bit. In this day of global connection, social media and interaction, and the ubiquity of cameras and sharing the 10 best idea for on-line learning contradict all those notions.

I will say the preface the post with:
Now here’s a fun list for every educator! Education (for both children and adults) is moving more and more online. At SimpleK12, we provide 100% online professional development for teachers around the world.

So, it's fun. However, the next sentence promotes their 100% online professional development. So to me it's either fun, or it's promoting reason why I should learn with them...
... I'm not sure.

Heres's my take....

To break it down one, by one:
10. No one will judge you if you don't brush your teeth right away.

Hermit-like existance #1.
There are more examples in the top 10 advocating on-line learning via a hermit like solitary lifestyle. Education or not, no matter what you are undertaking, "not brushing your teeth" should not be a "pro" to doing something. If "not brushing your teeth" makes it to the top 10 of your educational requirements I'd hate to see some of your other lifestyle top 10s.

9. The commute is only as far as your living room - yet you connect and learn from experts around the world.
Ok, fair enough. Good point. I'm glad this ranked higher than "not brushing your teeth".

8. With 24/7 access, you can do what you want when you want.
Hermit-like existence #2.
While on it's surface it seems like a good point I feel this is actually counter-intuitive to the concept of learning. Learning is done in the company of others, you learn by interacting, by watching, by observing, by talking, debating, discussing, arguing, disagreeing, sharing, etc. If 24/7 access grants me the ability to watch an on-demand webcast at 4am but not ask questions of the presenter of fellow participants (becuae thye are all asleep) what am I really learning?

And yes, it's great to learn at your own pace when you are ready, but with all the "social media/interaction" notions being bandied about these days, is learning on your own really in-line what that ideal?

7. You're not limited to learning only from the experts in your geographical area.
Yes, but that is a bit of a contrived point. I'm not enrolled in any "on-line learning" programs, yet through things like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Classroom 2.0, etc I can easily connect with people from all over the world. "On-line learning" should not be something I have to sign up or in for. If you have the internet and are interested in learning you can and will.

6. Shaving and make-up are optional.
Hermit-like existence #3.
REally? the #6 reason on-line learning is good is I don't have to worry about personal grooming (and hygiene - see #10).
I get the gist, on-line learning allows you fo focus on the learning. I went to a Jesuit high school, I get the fous on education. At an all-boys school there fewer distractions and far less emphasis about personal appearance (there was a dress code). However, the idea of a Jesuit education was never sold to me with the line "you wont have to worry how you look, there are no girls!"

Ridiculous. GIve me an education reason, not chance to slack on personal hygiene.

5. Information is at your fingertips when you need it the most.
Yes. It's called the internet. On-line learning or not, information is at your fingertips at all times. As I mentioned... Google, Twitter, Facebook, Classroom 2.0

4. The coffee at home is much better.
Hermit-like existence #4.
Stay at home, don't see people. No shaving, makeup, or teeth brushing. All the home brewed coffee you can drink! AGain, not really selling me on the benefits of on-line learning. And at #4? I would expect a much better reason than coffee for the #4 reason on-line learning is better.

Besides, nothing beats a Dunkin Donuts egg sandwich with coffee. Can't get that at home...

3. You're practicing valuable 21st century skills while you learn.
I feel like I'm repeating myself.... Yes. It's called the internet. On-line learning or not, information is at your fingertips at all times. As I mentioned... Google, Twitter, Facebook, Classroom 2.0

2. You can learn at your pace - no waiting for others to catch up or feeling like you've been left behind.
Hermit-like existence #5.
Again, the reason for on-line learning is a reason against interacting and engaging with others. I understand the premise, but it only works if there is a continual next step or a comprehensive review process in the on-line learning environment.
What happens if you fall behind because you don't understand a concept. Is every concept explained somewhere in the on-line environment? THe on-line learning environment handicaps the "ask your neighbor" or "ask the class for clarification" part of in-peson learning. Sure, you can re-watch a webcast, but if it still isn't clear where do you go?
What happens if you cruise through all the lessons? ARe there enough to keep you engaged and learning or will you top out and leave the on-line learning environment because it doesn't offer what you need?
Sort of bring me back to me "it's the internet" idea. The entire thing is a learning environment.

1. Everything's better in your Bunny Slippers!
I'm not even going to respond to this one.

Now, again, this was "... a fun list of 10 ten reasons why our teachers think it's better online..."
It still concerns me. It may be in fun, but they publicize themselves as a place for educators and an online professional development organization (and promote this blog via Twitter numerous times) and this is the list they come up with?

How about a genuine, thoughtful list of reasons? Can't manage that unshaven and in bunny slippers I suppose....

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