These issues I’ve been discussing regarding AltLab/OLE infatuation with Twitter have made me think about my students.
They like closed systems. If I had them write a post or pass along an article or share a picture — and it went out to everyone they knew — many of them would be mortified. It would have a chilling effect on their free and honest expression.
That’s what a university classroom provides. Or that’s what it should provide. Security and support. The freedom to be a fool, to make mistakes, to learn and consider and discuss, without the burden of having each moment itemized and judged by outsiders.
I think a good online course should strive to retain this unique, and deeply valuable, quality of a creative classroom.
Of course, I might be wrong here. There might be holes in my argument. But that itself is an issue which online communication makes difficult. If we were all in a big room, I could state my questions or criticisms, some knowledgable staffer could respond, other folks could add their two cents. After awhile, we would all get a much better sense of how we feel and where we stand.
But here? Perhaps a few people will read this. I’ve got no idea. But for those who do, there’s no efficient way to discuss the matter, as responses will come in intermittently, if they come in at all. That’s no great tragedy, but it does remind me of the advantage of being in the same space together — not a virtual space— and how our online courses might try to compensate for such deficiencies.