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Online Learning Should Return to a Supporting Role


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Blending online and in-person instruction.

The best education continues to be intensive, expensive, and done in person.

Credit: Daniel Castro Maia

As the coronavirus pandemic forces schools and college campuses to go online, the delivery model of education — largely unchanged for centuries — has suddenly been disrupted.

This may seem like the acceleration of a permanent shift toward online learning, but I have my doubts. In fact, economics tells us that technology will make in-person education more valuable than ever.

At the moment, teachers from kindergarten through graduate school are struggling to take their classes online, and the initial results are, understandably, spotty. But the longer this mass experiment continues, the more familiar remote learning will become. And, has been predicted for many years, online performances by superstars are increasingly likely to replace more pedestrian in-person lectures.

This can go only so far, because other important aspects of education are best done by teachers in more intimate settings. Educators will increasingly be tutors, mentors and role models, and economics also tells us that these features of a great education will not scale up.

 

From The New York Times


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