Is Online Education Living Up To Its Potential?

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Scott J Davies

Scott Davies is a freelance writer and tutor. He is currently studying a Master of Education. He is interested in education, economics, geopolitics and history. He's on Twitter and has a Medium page.

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Anecdatum: My wife has to take graduate courses to keep her teaching credential. In the past she has taken summer classes at a local(ish) university. None of them panned out as an option last year, so she took an online course. Its outstanding qualities were that it was cheap, and she confirmed ahead of time that her district accepted it. This also was the first time that she complained about the course. She didn’t use the word “bullshit” because she is more ladylike than I, but that was the clear sense. Dropping out wasn’t an option, but it wasn’t a fulfilling experience. To be blunt, the model works to check off boxes, but as an educational experience it sucks.

    For myself, I looked at MOOCs when they first became a thing, and decided I wasn’t interested. Autodidacticism is very much among my talents, so any topic I was interested in enough to consider taking a MOOC, I had already read about. The result was that the MOOC inevitably meant wading through basic stuff I knew, without the compensation of direct interaction with someone who knows more about it than I do. I can imagine some learning styles benefiting from access to well done lectures. But as a text-based learner, I am better off reading a few books about the subject.Report

  2. Avatar Pinky says:

    This makes sense. Richer, younger people with better study habits are going to be able to handle an online format more easily, but they’re the people who are much more likely to be in traditional educational programs. Less tech-savvy people, older returning students, people who are trying to balance work, life, and school, that’s who is more likely to take online coursework.

    I’ve been reading recently about language learning, and the current thinking is that adults are *better* able to learn a new language than children. Adults understand language structure better, and have the tools to make associations between languages. Adults struggle with learning languages because they’re impatient. It takes them two weeks to learn to say “yes it is cold today” and it makes them feel foolish – but that’s because they had to learn to say yes/no, it is hot/cold/rainy/snowy/sunny, yesterday/today/tomorrow, and all the other words in the first five chapters of the lesson plan. Kids can handle saying “yes it is cold today” without being embarrassed that they don’t know the words for “meteorologist” or “cold front”. Anyway, where I’m going with this thought is that adult learners sometimes underestimate the importance of structure and study time. Online learning has to be flexible, but there’s an efficiency cost in that.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I love the idea of Lambda School and I am excited by how Lambda expects its graduates to pay for it.

    The problem is that it’s pretty much 100% a trade school. You take the course, you learn to code. That’s it. No poetry. No film studies. The theory is computer language theory rather than critical theory.

    While I imagine that this will make a person employable right out of the gate with a lot less debt to pay off, it won’t give them the experience of getting stoned in a dorm.

    So I see both sides.Report

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