Dissing Online Education

By Steve Buckstein

CascadeNewLogoOne can imagine that blacksmiths and buggy whip makers didn’t take kindly to the automobile revolution that started in the late 19th century. Those at risk of losing their horse-related jobs likely made the case for resisting the new, glitchy, and dangerous metal machines. We all know how that rivalry turned out.

Today, another revolution is beginning. Just as thousands of years of horse travel were largely replaced within a few decades, one wonders what the future of physical classroom education might be in the face of the online education revolution.

A Portland State University professor of educational leadership recently authored an op-ed making the case that “effective teaching practices such as class discussion, relational learning and other activities of the traditional classroom are hard to offer on a computer screen.” That might be true; face-to-face educational interactions may never go away, but soon they could be greatly supplemented or even overshadowed by online innovation.

The future is always daunting to those at risk of being displaced, but the future is coming and we will find ways to adapt to it and even improve upon it. Buggy whips may be a thing of the past, but there are still plenty of jobs for people who know how to make and care for our modern horseless carriages.

Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

  • Eric Blair

    And yet, at 33,000 automobile deaths in 2012… perhaps we shouldn’t have been in such a rush and spent a little more time listening. 😉

    • MrBill

      Listening to what?

      Are you suggesting that we go back to horse and buggy transportation?

      • Eric Blair

        Listening to the warning and taking those into account rather than blindly rushing forward.

        Of course I don’t think we should go back.. I do believe, however, we should be driving, where feasible, a lot less. I think in the rush to the automobile there is a cautionary tale … not one of never adopting the technology, but certainly trying to think about ramifications.

    • Eric, let’s put those 33,000 annual automobile related deaths into some perspective.

      In 1894 the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every city street would be buried in nine feet of horse manure, and one New York prognosticator predicted that by 1930 horse droppings in that city would be three stories deep. *

      Any guess as to how many people would have died in 2012 if we were still relying on horses instead of automobiles?

      * source: https://www.uctc.net/access/30/Access%2030%20-%2002%20-%20Horse%20Power.pdf

      • Eric Blair

        I love guessing games! I’ll guess 200! 294 automobile related deaths in 2013… 184 of which were pedestrians.

        Let’s play: I wonder how many pedestrian related deaths due to horses there were???

        We could also compare the number of injuries and illnesses related to horse vs. automobile there are.

        And I’d still prefer to have someone riding drunk than driving drunk.

        I wonder what the ration is in urban areas where horse are more likely to approximate the number of automobiles?

        • Eric, if horses are safer than cars, then walking is safer than horses. And just imagine how much safer we’d be if we had never mastered fire.

          To put this debate in a broader frame, read Virginia Postrel’s book, “The Future and Its Enemies.”

          • Eric Blair

            Walking would be safer if it weren’t for all those cars. 😉

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-technology. I do think, however, that taking a little time to ponder the repercussions might save us from digging holes that we later have to climb out of.

            The future is going to happen… but we should try and exercise a little thoughtfulness as we approach it.

          • guest

            Shirlee ‘remindful’ Eric Blair as an instructor at Portland State University. If so, would confirm PSU has caught the Ward Churchill virus from the University of Colorado.

  • Shirlee

    If the moronic PSU instructor had only spent more time figuring out why none of the students at PSU ever graduate it would have been time better spent.
    Maybe they need some of that there “on-line” learning….it is certain the classrooms aren’t working there.

  • raven6

    33,000 is peanuts compared to the results of Government intervention. The depopulation crowd numbers should be in your mix.
    What are those darn abortion numbers again? or maybe, well you get the idea. Selective thinking.

    • Eric Blair

      Or… apples and oranges.

      • Token Heatwarmer

        “If wishers were horses, beggars would ride.”
        “Be kind-for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.”