Thursday, January 31, 2008

Online Schooling Grows, Setting Off a Debate

Online Schooling Grows, Setting Off a Debate

I think this is interesting because it's what I'm doing as an FastTrack MLIS grad student at UPitt. Rocking the online for assignments, classes, discussions etc has proven to require a definitive switch in perspective as a learner. I was fairly confident going into this that it wouldn't make that much of a difference not having classmates around me. That has proven to be the part that I miss the most; not just knowing what's due tomorrow without ever reading the syllabus but rather the verbal dicussion sparked by the moment of teaching/connections from previous class that day or week. I think that's one of the drop backs that this article doesn't necessarily touch on. It's excellent that students can learn Cantonese on a sheep farm in the far flung American prairie but how is their ability to interact with other people? The concept of school teaches far more than simply the three R's; I believe it teaches community at best and cliques at worst.
This is not to say I think public schools are the summation of education in this country; not a chance. What I am attempting to point out is that there is a redefining of the definition of community that is currently happening with such things as social networking, wikis, blogs and other "community-based" networks interacting through the Internet.
While these things are termed communities they aren't communities any more than my office becomes a classroom when I log into my class. Community cannot simply be based on information; a community is based on knowledge and knowledge is gained through encountering, conflicting,discussing and interacting . This article posits an interesting question which I think we should be concerned about, which is, is the purpose of education to teach facts or to generate knowledge through community?

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