Archive for August, 2011

I remember my first online course. It was a continuing education course from a nearby college which, even though just a few towns away, was still beyond a convenient driving range. I signed up by phone, got the course materials by mail, and began logging in nightly to get assignments, turn in assignments, or-and here’s the important part-enter comments on a discussion board.

The discussion board was to take the place of peer interaction. Members (students) would post their comments and invite comment or discussion, or even start entirely new discussions. A single topic and its attendant responses was called a “thread” and could be discussed at anytime during the course. Many of the instructors even required a certain number of entries to be posted, or discussions started as part of your grade.

That seems like ancient stuff now. Our students now have smart phones, i-pads, and many have digital notebooks or i-books. Add to that devices like Kindle and other e-book readers as well as the ubiquitous phone apps which allow students to access the internet for more information than we as teachers have time to ask for and you can see that our thirst for knowledge has us drowning in information.

BYOT (not an official title but one I heard recently) is becoming the paradigm for the future classroom. Students are encouraged to “Bring Your Own Technology” to access information beyond the confines of the school room. In this setting the teacher serves merely to pose the question and moderate the discussion of answers. The building of relationships becomes obsolete. We become abject facilitators.

Ok-so maybe it won’t be as bad as all that, but if we are not really careful, public education will become obsolete. We can already take college courses online, and virtual public high school courses are now available. Soon there will really be no need to sit in a classroom with a real teacher.

I suppose, however, if I can sit on the beach with my laptop and grade electronically submitted assignments and still get paid for it…hmm…let me think about that.

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