Look Inside my Crystal Ball


What is the future of education?  That is a huge question.  There is a lot of speculation about whether or not the trends towards online learning will be accelerated by the pandemic. I don't have a crystal ball, so I'm not sure, but I do know that the magic of education is in connection.  This can happen online, but it certainly takes a lot of effort.  To feel engaged, students need to make three main connections:

To their professor:  They need to feel like the teacher is a real person who is really interested in the subject that they are teaching.  This is hard hard hard online.  I try to add personal detail to my classes, and let my students see my face (at least occasionally) despite my introverted desire to remain anonymous.

To each other:  I just started doing peer editing again in my courses this semester.  I've always hated online peer editing, but I've come to realize that it's necessary if I want my students to connect with one another.  They need to be able to feel vulnerable by putting their writing out there. I also require a ton of interaction on discussion boards.

To the institution: I think institutions are getting better at this.  I am in a group of moms whose babies were born all at the same time (August 2017).  I have only met 2 women in the group in real life (one before the group and one as a result of the group).  But, I feel connected to all of them. I think that people are growing more and more comfortable becoming a part of communities that exist (for them) only on the internet, and this is something that schools can really take advantage of.

I don't think online education is going away, but I don't think in classroom education is either.

If I could make a wish, and ask my crystal ball, what I want for education is for it to be reborn as something that is more respected in our society.  I want education to be about learning- the student's willingness and openness to learning at the center.  I don't want education to be a required step on any life path, but a place where we can learn to exchange ideas and grow by exposure to different viewpoints.  I'm a bit of an educational idealist, but if I could make a wish, that would be it.


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