OK just to warn you right out of the gate I am an Old Guy with experience (mostly as student) with a lot of different modes and styles of education as well as training. Now that we have entered the “New Abnormal” we have been put on notice that we are going to experience as well as be subjected to much more “On-Line Learning” due to the current Covid-19 Pandemic. We have been put on notice that this is inevitable. Social Distancing makes it mandatory!
During my somewhat inglorious academic career I was subjected to the traditional modes of public school high school and then Higher Educational teaching environments. Possibly the least desirable learning environment I experienced were my first year university lectures. These lectures subjected me and eight hundred or a thousand fellow freshman students to “multi-media” televised teaching in large amphitheaters. These teaching methods used monochromatic (as in black and white) television projected with very poor video quality on large screens at the front of the lecture hall. Usually there were grad students at the front of each hall to keep order take question or distribute the lecture handouts. Remember this was in the early 1960’s when TV technology was primitive and before colour TV was available. Video quality was poor. Audio quality wasn’t any better. And the poor lecturers appeared to have had little to no training in how best to handle lecturing using television as a medium. OK this was 1963 but what have we learned since then?
Subsequently in my professional life I have sat through many many training sessions using teaching aids like microfiche Power Point slides and finally on-line Computer Aided Instruction (CAI). And now we move to large-scale on-line instruction pretty much for everything from elementary school to post-grad teaching.
This has to be a horse of a different colour! Marshall McLuhan famously said that “the medium is the message”. Well here we go again. How can we best adapt to the needs and rigour of on-line learning? Well first it would seem necessary to have in place the technological infrastructure to support it. Not going to delve into those technological infrastructure issues here thank you very much!
Then it would seem necessary to actually develop the course-ware/training materials suited to the online training environment. By now we have many decades of experience to draw upon for class room-based teaching and training. But how to translate that experience to the new online medium? My observation is that that is going to be a new challenge for all of us.
The future of education and how on-line learning will be used how it will evolve and how we as both students and teachers will learn how best to use it is an ongoing subject of discussion:
Here is an article just published about this very set of issues. We will republish this article in full in the next posting on this blog: