Where does the learning happen?
Learning. It used to be so easy. One would sit in the classroom or lecture hall — those magical places — and gaze at the professor lecture, recite, reiterate, review, or rampage about something. It was great entertainment. Then weâ€™d go home and read a text to reinforce what weâ€™d just heard.
Still, something happened in the classroom. We learned something. We left the lecture hall feeling like we had just witnessed something special, like we had just participated in something big. We felt changed.
Where does the learning happen in an online course? Are you changed by me? Is that too selfish a question to ask as a professor of online courses? Do I make an impression on you? Do you leave feeling new, older, wiser?
Or is the text itself now the real teacher here? Iâ€™ve been replaced by the book. The course text is the thing tethering us to one another and anchoring us into history and something we like to call â€œobjectivityâ€. Do we just reinforce things we already know when we post our remarks about a text? Do we really encounter each other, and learn from each other — as other — when we â€˜discussâ€™ online?
Maybe the learning is all in your head. Or on the screen? The lecture hall has morphed into a private space under the small light of your desk lamp in an otherwise dark room, long after the family has gone to bed. When you leave that private classroom, are you changed?