In Freakonomics Goes to College, the question is asked, “Where is the value added in education?”
Especially at the university level (I would argue in high school at well), most of what what we study is forgotten when class ends. This is true regardless of the skill of the teacher or the dedication of the student. But not only do graduates obtain higher earnings with additional formal education, most college graduates would also say that they feel like they learned something in college.
What is that?
I had a teacher who once told me that learning wasn’t about remembering, but about taking in the knowledge of someone else. It’s a transfer. And I think that it is that transfer, that osmosis, that makes education a transformative experience.
The question is, can that happen online?
My experience studying online would tell me no. I don’t bump into new people from different walks of life (no, discussion boards and group projects don’t fill that role). I don’t spend time (virtual or otherwise) with professors and T.A.s that inspire me to see things in a new light. But I am a grown woman. I have traveled widely, read widely. In my online education, I wasn’t looking for transformation, I was looking for skills. And I have gained a lot of those.
But I wonder, are we settling for skill-based online education when we could be offering transformation?
What would it look like to have a transformative college experience online? What about high school?
I have more thoughts on this that I hope to share soon. Until then, I would like to hear yours. Can online learning be a transformative experience?