When I started teaching online, I was sceptical. I had been working many years in classrooms with blackboards, carrying books and scrawling remarks with red ink into the margins of exercise sheets.
How could all that be possibly replaced by a computer? A lifeless machine?
What I found is that it can’t be replaced, instead traditional education could be only augmented by using technology.
In other words: It’s a completely different scenario. It’s virtually impossible to compare learning in a classroom and learning via Skype (or other online tools).
Ironically, maybe the biggest difference is that learning online is far more intensive, in a small amount of time a lot more can be done in terms of learning and thoroughly digging through problems and solutions together.
Sure, efficiency is a nice argument, but what strikes me even more is the different quality of the lesson time itself. (I wrote about this before)
The funny thing:
Especially my younger students seem to get the hang of it immediately and dive right in. (My youngest ones are 7 or 8 years old)
Something curious — and I’ve also said it before: when you tell some people about learning online they are confused by what you mean and ask questions like: “But isn’t that a bit sad to hide behind the screen?”
Especially regarding children everyone is super-concerned! “That can’t be good, can it? The poor buggers. They have to work with computers!” Others will say that we don’t teachers or courses, at all. Just give everyone an iPad and watch them turn into little Einsteins.
But those are just opinion and wishful thinking.
My experience working with children always shows to me how deeply prejudiced we actually are regarding technology, although we don’t really seem to admit it — and I don’t take myself out of it. Like I said, I also was sceptical at first. Also, especially regarding children. (I had been working mostly with kids in my pre-online teaching life)
But I didn’t grow up with the Internet. Mobile phones didn’t just exist. I saw them fading into existence.
Kids have the advantage of being natives in the Digital World.
To them, technology in general and digital communication in particular is nothing “artificial” or out of the ordinary. Instead, it seems, they treat it like running water or oxygen. It’s taken for granted. And that’s it. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and they won’t make mistakes, quite on the contrary — but their basis for learning how to use technology is infinitely stronger because the both the skepticism and the hype is absent.
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