Online Learning--Friend or Foe?
The Internet may be a hot new way to learn, but most teachers and students agree that it's not going to replace the old-fashioned classroom any time soon.
Of the students and teachers that were surveyed at Garden Valley Collegiate in Winkler, Manitoba, the majority see computers as a way of enhancing classroom learning, not replacing it. Although some were concerned that GVC just doesn't have enough computers to meet the growing demand.
Margaret R., Senior 4 (Grade 12) student at GVC, says she enjoys taking the On-line English course.
"I think that the Internet is a good change from the classroom, and offers a little variety in the way we learn," Margaret R. says.
Although her opinion of online learning was high, she did not think that computers would take the place of teachers completely.
"They cannot offer the individuality that a human can. Yet if teachers were no longer required to be in the classroom, it would be a good idea to have a teacher at the other end of the connection, this way there is someone to answer any questions that might arise, and they can add some personal touches to what is an otherwise dull screen."
When asked if GVC has enough computers to handle the amount of users, she answered with a definite no, saying that "We only have in excess of about 100 computers, and we have about 900 students who want to use them, so there is always a rush to get to a computer first."
Steven R. is another Senior 4 student but he is not enrolled in any on-line courses at present. He foresees the day when teachers will be out of a job.
"When I look at where we are now compared to a few years ago, I see a trend happening. We are getting more involved with technology, and less involved with each other. I think that it is only a matter of time before teachers are replaced by computers."
He thought that the learning process on-line was "okay", but said "it can still be improved upon majorly. And this improvement will begin and continue in the years to come." He is in agreement with Margaret that GVC needs more computers in order to handle the amount of students who use the Internet.
Betty Buhlin is the Assistant Librarian at Garden Valley Collegiate, and she sees first hand the struggles to get an Internet accessable computer because there are three such computers located in the Library. Yet she isn't planning her early retirement because of computers.
"I can't see computers taking the place of teachers because then the most important part of learning, the relationship between teacher and student, would be deleted."
"On-line learning is great, if the technology is used properly. We have rules for computer use that are outlined in the "Internet Agreement", which all students are required to sign and follow. As long as these rules are followed, the Internet is a terrific opportunity for learning." Mrs. Buhlin also agrees that GVC does not have enough computers to handle the large amount of users, but she continues on to say "We are continually trying to get more computers for student use."
Larry Danielson is a classroom English teacher, but he is also the teacher of On-line courses. Danielson does not believe that computers will take over the teacher's jobs, saying "Teachers are always needed," and that, "Technology will, and is changing the way we teach."
He says, "The main concern for teachers is that we must keep up to date with the technology in order to offer the right information to our students." In some ways Danielson feels that computers allow more freedom and knowledge about the people in the classes, and yet in other ways computers take away the face to face communication. Danielson explained that "The computers we (GVC) have are sufficient on a limited basis, but as the classes grow, a problem of computers arises, along with a now familiar problem of limited server space."
Most of the people asked, were of the same opinion that teachers would not be replaced by computers because it would cause the disappearance of personable skills which play a large part in our everyday lives. As far as the computers that are located at Garden Valley Collegiate are concerned, there will never be enough for all the students at the school because the cost of outfitting each student with a computer would be too high. So patience and understanding will be tested in the future for GVC students when dealing with the internet. Another virtue to be tested is of course common sense. The students need to use this when looking up information on the Internet, because it only takes one keystroke to wind up at a page full of porn or the like. This is a major concern for parents and teachers, because these things are very easy to accidentally find, and some people let their curiosity kill their cat.