“Traditional Learning is Not Obsolete,” Jingshan Liu (2014) — Inquiry 3

Modern technology is a magic miracle that brings unprecedented and revolutionary changes into our society everyday. Recently, with the rapid development of internet, it has helped people an easy access to acquire all kinds of information. Since internet has penetrated into almost every corner of our life, distance learning and online learning based on the Internet is available for most students. As more courses can be taught through internet, there would seem to be less need for teachers to be present in educational institutions. An issue based upon whether traditional learning can be replaced by online learning is undoubtedly discussed daily by people, especially students and teachers, in both the private and public sectors. As a college student, I participate in this debate inevitablely. In my opinion, traditional learning better promotes students’ understanding of the knowledge that is valuable to them compared to online learning so that students can be better trained and more skilled for their future

I believe only when the knowledge is linked with emotions do students understand the best. Emotion is the feeling underlying human surface which potentially changes our attitude towards the study. In simple words, when people are delighted, everything seems to be going on wheels in spite of one or two minor mishaps. However, people would digress from whatever they are supposed to focus on with low spirits. This theory can be applied to the study too. “Our emotional state has the potential to influence our thinking. For example, students learn and perform more successfully when they feel secure, happy, and excited about the subject matter” (Boekaerts, 1993; Oatly & Nundy, 1996). When in the real class, we can discuss some controversial issues, express different feelings or ideas with classmates and enjoy this atmosphere. Exposure to these favorable circumstances, our passion in pursuing for knowledge that really interests us is stimulated. That combining emotion and knowledge properly enables students to do serious thinking and in-depth research. As a result, students are able to draw their own interpretation and understanding of knowledge and then get enlightments about life, which, I believe, is the core of education. Students shouldn’t be treated like a knowledge holder merely accepting the ready-made theories without any thinking. However, faced with computers, students only receive the cold words and images without any vitality. Sitting in front of a computer alone does provide a quiet environment to take down notes and consider questions. However, students’ thought is limited because what they receive from the video is limited. As the saying goes “there are a thousand hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes”, so we cannot count on one student who learn alone and think alone to   explore various new ideas. In the class, students can share their own different opinions and discuss them to expand the thinking capacity as well as understand different sides of one question

It is truth that some students are not mature enough to use their own judgment to choose credible learning materials and teaching videos. Furthermore, a major feature of internet is that it shows all kinds of related information to the key words to everyone without considering user’s identity and age or whether it is appropriate or not. Faced with this characteristic of internet, students may accept the wrong concepts and lose the ability to tell right from wrong. To some extent, online learning potentially gives students a perfect excuse to prolong the time spent on the computer. In a new study in China, scientists scanned 17 internet-addicted adolescents and 16 non-addicted individuals. The results showed, in the addictive teenagers, the connections between “white matter” (an important part in central nervous system) nerve fibers and other parts including emotions, determination making as well as the ability of controlling are disrupted (Watson). According to this investigation, we learn that spending long time on the Internet can be harmful to brain and this damage to the brain is irreversible and even fatal to students. In general, it takes students who are particularly interested in certain specialized field several months even a few years to conduct intensive study. The whole researching process must include attending a large number of lectures given by well-known scholars. If all the learning materials are accessible via internet, which means the success of the research is completely depending on the Internet, I can’t image how many hours the students need to spend on the computer. It seems that computer is an efficient and convenient tool to propagate knowledge. Actually, it poses threats to our brain as well as body functions in such a subtle way. Since the damage to mental health caused by computer is proved, we cannot count on internet to improve the understanding of knowledge.

In a questionnaire survey, 30 American college students are randomly chosen and required to answer several questions related to online learning. It turns out that 80% respondents agree that online learning makes the study less efficient and they cannot guarantee that they won’t be distracted by social media, such as Face book and Twitter. 75% people points out even if the college allowed them to use internet to take courses, they would insist on going to the school to study. Since college students are not confident about their self-control ability, it would be obviously easy to infer the answers given by teenagers in primary school. If the students are given enough freedom to listen to a class online, no one could make sure that students can pay the same attention as they are in the real class. As a result, students can’t gain a good comprehension about the ideas contained in the video.

Unlike the traditional learning which enables students to ask their questions related to the new knowledge at any time, online education does not provide students opportunities to be free to ask questions in the process of video playing. In a teaching video, the teacher’s speed of talking is usually so fast that they can cover all key points in the limited time. Based on different levels of student’s comprehension, we can not expect every student fully understand the new knowledge. Some courses like mathematics require a high-level logical thinking ability. If you don’t understand a certain point, even a tiny one, then the rest, no matter how easy it is, will make no sense to you. In general, online courses don’t have teacher’s guidance, which means students can be stuck in academic problems easily. For those online courses takers, the only way seeking for an answer is to organize the words, type them down and send the questions to instructors. The process of waiting for a teacher’s reply could take a few minutes or a whole day and even students get the explanation, they may not understand the reply well because the form of giving solution is written not meeting the teacher in person. It is ironic that the internet, which is supposed to bring convenience into the daily life, makes “asking and answering” so complicated and time-consuming. Many argue that students can research the answers by themselves via computers without any help from teachers. On a basis of such information explosion age, there is a lot of information showing on the result lists. Due to the lack of great discernment, teenagers can not be relied on to make wise choices in selecting credible, unbiased recourse by themselves. Teachers are needed to provide good advice and assistance.

There is a Chinese old saying“Yin Cai Shi Jiao”, which means teaching students in accordance with their aptitude. It is a crucial teaching method dating back to the 500 BC. According to students’ various cognitive levels and learning capability, teachers should adjust the teaching plans to students’ different characteristics. This strategy can help students not only use their strengths in full but also compensate the weakness. In online teaching video, the length and depth of curriculum are fixed. All the students receive the same video forms. The unchangeable video patterns fail the quick learner’s desire to get more and deeper knowledge and dissatisfy normal student’s expectation to have an attractive and lively class. If students lose interests in knowledge, how could we expect them to be willing to accept and understand information?
However, some people have showed the disagreement that online learning enables students to replay the teaching video as many times as they want to understand every keynote and don’t need to worry about missing key points. These people say that in real class, teachers usually don’t repeat the same sentence and if you miss one point, you can’t make it up. However, they ignore a vital element that if you don’t understand an idea in a video at the first time, this problem won’t show the solution by itself no matter how many times you watch the video. I interviewed a mathematics professor and he thought verbal communication is the most natural and cheerful way to build bridges between teachers and students, but online teaching disrupts the connections. Communication and eye contacts are important to both students and teachers. Teachers need these two elements to adjust the pace of class to a suitable speed for most students. Students need them to show understanding of what the teacher emphasized. What the students need is the instruction and inspiration of teachers. Replaying the teaching video makes no difference but waste the time.

In conclusion, traditional learning will never be replaced no matter how advanced the technology develops into. On the contrary, the role of both schools and teachers will become more important. Only the traditional learning will stimulate the students’ minds and bring out the creativity. Students can be better prepared to survive in the coming keen competitive environment.

Works Cited

Boekaerts, M. (1993). Being concerned with well-being and with learning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 149-167.

Oatley, K., & Nundy, S. (1996). Rethinking the role of emotions in education. In D. R. Olson & N. Torrance (Eds.), The handbook of education and human development: New models of learning, teaching and schooling (pp. 257-274).Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Watson, Leon. “Internet Addiction Can Be as Harmful to Teenagers’ Brains as Cocaine and Cannabis.” Mail Online. N.p., 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.