I agreed a while ago to teach a class online this summer. Our department is encouraging it when possible, especially for summer classes, and there is something of a movement more generally to online classes. While it's great for me (I can work totally from home at whatever hours I want), I've been thinking it can't help but be a drag on students. Yes, students who can't travel can still get an education. But a good part of a college education is not simply learning course material, but being in an environment where people pursue education. One catches excitement from profs, from other students; one opens one's horizons. One learns from a discussion in class, especially in philosophy classes. I know I can't answer questions as well on a discussion board or in email as in person.
I think the old-fashioned teach-in-a-classroom has advantages that simply cannot be recreated online. Perhaps less important, but still valuable if financially feasible, is the model of living away from one's parents' house and gathering at a university.
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