With colleges and universities starting up at the end of August, perhaps one should pause to consider contemporary education. Where once halls were filled with academic banter, they are now barren places. Online courses are sapping the number of students in actual sit-in classes. Information technology via online education has taken away face-to-face learning by constructing a virtual student self. The student is led into a dependency on computerization while moving away from interaction skills.
Online courses increase the gap between student and teacher. The “computer classroom” is driven by business ideas as “time efficiency” and “convenience,” all the while bypassing true learning and knowledge. The propaganda that learning can be turned into a quick process is very appealing to contemporary students who see the economic world as limited in opportunity. Actual learning becomes demeaned by consumer capitalism and symbolized in false identity T-shirts, superficial certificates, and people who can not describe what they do unless they read it off PowerPoint. Devoid of actual classroom pedagogy, the online instructor thinks in terms of aggregates, not individual needs for academic development. In other words, the online student is a commodity, not an emerging intellect.
Online education falls experientially short of making mistakes and never pragmatically illustrates how to defend an idea. It is suggested that the online course is more about catering to a profit motive than learning. It is not suggested that one does away with information technology. There are hybrid classes integrating the online with “chalk and talk” pedagogy. Websites are valuable for implementing lectures and other circumstances that would be more prudent by utilizing IT techniques. However, the overwhelming majority of young people say they hate online classes and demonstrate they learn little. Why do they still sign up? Is it because counselors, along with public relations, guide students toward the college’s IT coffers? Two weeks ago, I sent out an email to students asking what I could do to make their lives better. A young lady replied, “I would like to be treated as a student that is willing to learn and take constructive criticism rather than the university’s next paycheck.”
(This will be Dr. Vazzana’s 39th year in the classroom of which 18 have been at Kent State-East Liverpool. Dr. “Jack” specializes in visual sociology and has had 12 one-man shows of Giclee photography along with numerous other exhibits and publications. In his undergraduate years, he had done 42 cartoons for the Duquesne Duke of which all have been permanently archived in the Gumberg Library for their sociological significance.)