Wouldn’t that be great? Upload your materials, and simply let a Blackboard/Canvas robot monitor discussion, grade activities and assessments, and provide useful comments, and maybe even encouragement. Is that where we’re headed?
Maybe so if we follow the trend of neo-reformers like Sugata Mitra, who suggests that teachers may not be necessary:
I’ve been somewhat skeptical of the ability of online courses to deliver the experience gained from traditional face-to-face courses, mostly because I really enjoy the dynamics of the classroom. And although I generally agree with Mitra’s position, I think students need more than a “gran.” In my limited experience, they need to be helped, guided, challenged, supported, encouraged and evaluated, among other things, which is much more than posting information and hoping that they learn it. Sure, we have access to a staggering amount of information through the web, but as Mitra says, it’s essential that we be discerning about this information. How do we make decisions about what’s important, then? How do students know what to search for, and how to use what they find?
In my classes, I try to give students an example of what a (somewhat) educated mind thinks about things–a lesson I saw repeatedly in graduate school, reinforced in a Chronicle of Higher Ed. article called “In Praise of Passionate, Opinionated Teaching” (http://www.nuatc.org/articles/pdf/passionate_teaching.pdf).
In the last few years, I’ve come around to recognizing the ability to do this in an online or blended format. It’s not enough, I believe, to use your skills/training/perspective to build innovative experiences, as the “Five Common Pitfalls” article suggests. Instead, I think it’s important, necessary even, to be engaged with student learning in all aspects of the course: the challenges, frustrations, insights, a-ha moments, and so on. Put differently, it’s not enough to “re-author” materials to so they leverage Web resources, etc. That just adds the newest technological bells + whistles to what may be an otherwise stale approach to teaching/learning. Instead, I feel we need to make the most of this dynamic technology to continue to challenge preconceptions and outdated mental models of reality.
So, yes, it’s a pitfall to believe one can upload outdated materials to a new format and “call it good.” But thinking that adding an video of what was once a lecture is potentially running into another pitfall: that technology alone makes learning happen.