Meet online learning. Learn from anywhere just like you would in a classroom; live and interactive lessons are conducted by teachers in America to students in Fiji ‒ its versatility is unparalleled. It’s flexible and allows students to learn at their own pace, giving them the independence they so desperately lacked. It’s a life-saver, providing a sanctuary for education to continue amidst a global pandemic, saving countless lives and ensuring the future. What’s not to like? We are truly living in mankind’s golden era.
But is it really like that?
Online learning comes with a slew of problems, brushed away by media hysteria and tangential reporting, all in the name of viewership figures. Online learning amplifies our innate and instinctive six of the seven deadly sins. Let me explain.
Sloth and gluttony are fairly obvious and literal. Laziness and complacency are reflected in the lack of effort that the students invest, while gluttony is shown in increased obesity rates. As students are left unmonitored, they are also left to make their own injudicious nutritional decisions ‒ resorting to their favourite “comfort foods” with depressing regularity.
The remaining four sins require a touch of creativity and a modicum of inference. Our inner wrath is unleashed as a result of our sedentary lifestyle; in doing nothing, our diminished self-worth projects itself in nihilistic misanthropy. I, for one, circumvented this by engaging in physical activities to stave off the darkness. Pride, a word with a multiplicity of ‒ sometimes conflicting ‒ connotations. In this context however, it is a negative, used to convey the fragile, superficial image of the youths. It takes just one innocuous third party comment to topple the house of cards. And what does this lead to? Silence and disengagement.
As the mics and cameras are turned off, secrecy, duplicity and ultimately cheating itself is made easy. Thus, we inevitably encounter both envy and lust, our two final guests to the table. Humans are, by nature, competitive and students are no different ‒ they lust to outdo each other. We look at our peers with envy while they, with devious jubilance, celebrate their near-perfect scores. This lust is only exacerbated by the presence of the seemingly-benign “study” sites, which are habitually used by many students ‒ not to supplement learning, but to replace it. It’s an open secret, the students know it and the teachers as well.
With online learning, teachers lack the authority and power to assert themselves, implement their rules, and claim dominance. A mere threat of sending a hastily-worded email to the parents is just not enough to keep the students in line.
The purpose of this article is neither to criticise the hardworking and punctilious teachers and students, whom I have the utmost respect for, nor to commend or uphold the centuries-old, highly-centralised and monopolistic educational system that is in critical need of a reform. My point is, when adopting new technologies, we must utilise our critical thinking skills to discern progress from the “Emperor’s new clothes.”
We are living in a Brave New World, where everything is rapidly changing. Technology might be ready, but are we?
By Krittat Phaisamran
NOTE: The opinion expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PSU Phuket and its employees or official policies.
This article was featured in ’The Phuket Collegiate Magazine’, the university magazine published by Milla Budiarto at PSU Phuket. For more information, visit: https://www.phuket.psu.ac.th/en/magazine or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
christysweet | 19 July 2022 - 11:43:05