In an article for the American Association of University Professors, Robin A. Harper and WEAI Research Scholar Michael O. Sharpe, both professors at York College, outlined the benefits and shortcomings of online teaching and learning.
“For the administration, students, and faculty, online learning provides some apparent advantages. The administration saves money on infrastructure and the maintenance of buildings and on equipment—in part by shifting some costs to faculty, who often provide their own computers, printers, and supplies. For those students who simply want a ticket to jobs requiring a college degree, online learning is a panacea: it limits the time and social commitment required by college. For faculty, distance teaching eliminates often expensive and time-consuming commutes and offers many of the comforts of working from home,” Harper and Sharpe wrote.
But the two added: “Especially for female and minority faculty members, teaching online represents a real change in the way we interact with students by removing much of the time-consuming care work we do to support our students. But do we want to give up this important function, which is one reason we went into teaching? By limiting in-person interaction with students, we may have created a solution to some of the time and money problems without addressing the human needs of our students. In short, distance teaching and learning turns education into a transactional experience. In its best form, a college education is transformative. Professors transfer information and guide students as they acquire the knowledge, ability to ask questions, skills, acumen, and confidence to challenge extant ideas. Students then become the creators of ideas. In contrast, transactional education is teaching on demand—as New York University Stern School of Business professor Scott Galloway recently quipped, the current online college learning experience is akin to a high-priced Netflix subscription. Students become passive recipients of knowledge instead of participants in the creative dialectic.”
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