By Professor Mark Brown
Has the Internet killed the classroom? Are the days of the traditional classroom numbered? What is the long-term future of our schools, institutes of technology and universities in the Digital Age?
This brief opinion piece explores these questions in the backdrop of a recent New Zealand Government proposal to allow children to attend an accredited online provider, instead of traditional schools, via the Internet. This quite radical proposal would allow any registered school, higher education provider or an approved body corporate to be able to apply to be a “Community of Online Learning” (COOL).
On the surface this would appear to be another digital nail in the coffin of the traditional classroom. There appears to be no stopping the spreading virus of online learning as new digital technology now infects and strikes at the very core of our education system. With over 35 million people registering for MOOCs in 2015, and now this recent New Zealand proposal, it would seem that the traditional classroom and lecture theatre is finally destined to go the same way as Kodak.
Let’s not fool ourselves, as arguably most people still believe that face-to-face teaching is better than online learning. Put bluntly, online learning is widely perceived to be an inferior mode of delivery, even by many contemporary educators.