Something to think about . . .
Can students get the same experience (or a comparable one) by coming to school virtually?
There are lots of interesting forms of technology that allow communication with people geographically separated from you.
Skype is a big one. The possibilities of “brining in” a speaker using this technology mean reduced travel time for that speaker (and travel cost!). It would be possible to speak with a professional halfway around the world – either as a whole class or as an individual or small group. When you use video conferencing it opens up so many avenues of communication and knowledge transfer.
In tech class, we were shown a VGO device. A robot (on wheels) that allows someone to be present in the room without actually being there. They have control over this robot – they can move it around, they can see whatever the robot can see, they can even make it talk for them.
There is certainly a novelty effect in play in the beginning. After we were introduced to the device, a classmate of mine opted to attend class this way. At first, people were more interested in it than in the lesson, but that died down with time. Like everything new, the novelty wore off.
While the technology is pretty cool, it did get me thinking. Can a student truly get what they need from school (or any social situation) by joining in remotely? I’m not sure.
Where I know it is beneficial is in the cases of students not being able to come to class. Maybe illness makes it so that it would be unsafe for the student to come to school (either for themselves, or for their classmates) or anxiety makes full participation impossible. In those cases, the technology would enable the students to participate as much as they can. It is more than they were getting by being withdrawn from the social circle completely, doing the work on their own, so that’s a plus.
In this day and age, when technology is continually changing, it excites me to see what we will be able to do with our classes. So much learning happens beyond the four walls of the classroom, so it’s about time we acknowledged it too!