Dave Warlick asked a group of educators what they thought they would see if they walked into a classroom in 2015 in his blog postOur Classrooms are Irrelevant, not obsolete!. His findings were a bit troubling though.
I continue to be disturbed, however, by the number of educators who
predict that the classroom will go away, that they will teach their
students through the networks, each from their own homes or other
places of preference. Certainly this is technologically feasible and
certainly some teaching and learning happens very well through the
digital lenses that are our computers and networks. But, is doing away
with classrooms what we really want?
However, believing that with technology, we can educate our children
without bringing them together, uses technology to separate, not
I may just be old fashioned — a romantic. But the
electricity that happens in the eye contact between teacher and student
is what brings to life, a world of wonder and opportunity.
I’m with Dave on this one. Technology is fantastic. It’s a key to bridging distances and making connections. However, it only fulfills this role in situations where face to face interaction is not feasible.
For people that are seperated by oceans, Skype is a fantastic way to communicate. For people working in different time zones, email has become an invaluable collaboration tool. IM is great for quick communication between people when a full conversation is unnecessary. However, none of them replace actual personal, physical interactions.
For the times when personal connections just aren’t possible, technology is able to serve as an adequate substitute. But there is definitely something lost in the translation. It’s like the difference between being at a football game and watching one on TV. Seeing a concert versus hearing it on CD. Being at a workshop versus hearing the podcast of it. TV, CD and podcast are certainly better than missing the event entirely, but they don’t capture the vibe, the buzz, the energy of actually being there in person.
And lest anyone forget, there’s is definitely a buzz in the classroom. It’s what I was talking about when I wrote Sharing the buzz. Teachers feel it too when they’re in professional development sessions. Yes, they could probably get the same information through an online lesson, but there’s something about the learning process that changes when people are sharing the experience physically as well as intellectually.
Classrooms may need to be updated to reflect the world of the 21st century, but don’t even think about taking classrooms away.