joy online learning

Is the joy of learning gone from online education?

And if so, what does a lack of joy mean for students and their place in the workforce?

What Does a Lack of Joy Mean for Online Students?

This brings up a couple points of interest to me: one good and one bad.

First, students are cognizant of the difficulty of the course. Too often, I find student apathy in the face-to-face classroom. Even when those students don’t know anything, they feel like they do because they are carried by their attendance in an environment of learners. The online classroom removes that and, therefore, removes the comfort. That’s good. It’s good to acknowledge the difficulty of academic work.

Yet, my second observation feels more significant. As a teacher and lifelong learner, I would hate to see joy sacrificed for the acknowledgement of difficulty. Most online platforms, as currently constructed, don’t include any of the engagement that a teacher brings to a room. Even with the best video and audio resources, online classes don’t prompt connection to the class. This is bad.

As a society, we are encouraging all citizens to seek more education. The professional world is demanding more educated and vibrant thinkers. It feels counter-productive to encourage more education, market it as a path to vibrant opportunities, and then present it in a manner that removes vibrancy from the process.

My own answers about my classroom, and my student responses, reflect a hurdle in the industry. How can we utilize technology as more than a delivery system? How can teachers trained to be engaging figures of knowledge relinquish that identity and rely on tools to do the engagement? How can schools prepare students for the reality of a technology centered classroom? Is the answer to lower their expectations for traditional engagement, or to raise our content to meet a higher standard?

As our industry shifts away from being people centered, critical design questions must be considered.  I was not ready to answer those questions.  Is anybody else?