Posted on Jan 25, 2013
For me, the shift toward online learning has been a strange one. I went to a school that required us to do longhand math and tuck in our collared shirts and write in cursive up until the sixth grade – we were traditional to say the least. Go Panthers.
So when I see people replacing novels with eReaders or (paper) notebooks with tablets, I find myself resisting the shift. Why? Because I am an in-betweener: amazed at the splendor of the technological age, but nostalgic for a time when things were more hands-on, more straightforward.
My nieces and nephews can already operate an iPad or an iPhone and the youngest of them is three years old. What we’re working toward right now is for classrooms to become more technologically grounded, not necessarily for the in-betweeners like myself, but for the kids who are born into this world of such technology. We’re trying to familiarize the unfamiliar and utilize the already digitalized.
The matter is complicated by policy (or lack thereof), deficient funding, knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of online learning, supposed “best practices,” and the overall public’s willingness to embrace change. These concerns make it hard for people to see how interactive and direct online learning really is.
This situation reminds me of Faulkner’s last novel, “The Reivers.” The entrance of an automobile into the fictional setting was the disruptive innovation for the main character and his family, who owned a livery stable. It is a story of growing up and adjusting to the harsh realities of time and progress, among other less simply put things.
Faulkner did an amazing job at capturing this time in between. The dust is spurred up between the horses of the agricultural age and the cars of the industrial age. The characters are just trying to sift their way through the haze and understand what is taking place – our current state with online education.
Much like the automobile, online learning is dynamic enough to adapt to both the in-betweeners and the kids born into this digital age. To help put each little granule and speck where it belongs, some sites, such as Learnist, the “educational Pinterest,” are helping organize the seemingly endless amount of online learning resources out there for use.
Now, much like Pinterest, just about anyone can post to this site saying just about anything. Obviously a certain amount of caution should be exercised when using this site for educational purposes, but this is a pretty good segue toward fishing out some of the gems from this ocean of knowledge.
The overall emphasis of Learnist in the school setting is more on the student creating their own, personalized “learningboard,” where they can post their own content for others to learn from, rather than simply pinning the content they discover. Teachers can use the site to brainstorm or to contribute the successes they’ve had in their own experience with an online learning tool.
Kyle Vineyard is a senior majoring in English at the University of Kansas. He has a passion for the written word and a soft spot for rural America.