Sunday, January 20, 2013

Online Courses Need a Human Element

I have no doubt that online courses will multiply in legal education—if for no other reason than that they make sense economically. However, there are some issues that need consideration.

At CNN.com, Douglas Rushkoff discusses the importance of thoughtful teacher-student interaction. Here is an excerpt:

First off, subjects tend to be conveyed best in what might be considered their native environments. Computers might not be the best place to simulate a live philosophy seminar, but they are terrific places to teach people how to use and program computers.

Second, and just as important, computers should not require the humans using them to become more robotic. I recently read an account from an online lecturer about how -- unlike in a real classroom -- he had to deliver his online video lectures according to a rigid script, where every action was choreographed. To communicate effectively online, he needed to stop thinking and living in the moment. That's not teaching; it's animatronics.

Online learning needs to cater to human users. A real instructor should not simply dump data on a person, as in a scripted video, but engage with students, consider their responses and offer individualized challenges.

The good, living teacher probes the way students think and offers counterexamples that open pathways. With the benefit of a perfect memory of student's past responses, a computer lesson should also be able to identify some of these patterns and offer up novel challenges at the right time. "How might Marx have responded to that suggestion, Joe?"

(ljs)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2013/01/online-courses-need-a-human-element.html

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