Let’s get together, yeah yeah yeah
Think of all that we could sha-are
Let’s get together everyday
Every way and everywhere
And though we haven’t got a lot
We could be sharin’ all we’ve got
~Haley Mills, From Walt Disney’s The Parent Trap
The public school classroom is a sacred community. How students socialize in school will be how they interact with each other as adults. Online learning drastically changes classroom dynamics. Students miss important humanization and learning skills when schools focus too heavily on technology.
Personalized learning, the way it is defined and set up, where students work mostly alone online, is an anti-socialization experiment that could haunt us for years to come.
Schools which emphasize personalized learning are realizing a gap is created when it comes to student communication. See Ed. Week’s “Sometimes Personalized Learning Feels Impersonal.”
Technology has much to offer, but it should not replace real teachers and classroom dynamics. Technology is a tool.
NPR’s recent personalized learning piece “The Future of Learning: Well It’s Personal” alludes to how tech shortchanges students.
In the report, Jade Davis an expert in emerging technologies in education, and the director of digital project management at Columbia University Libraries says:
I think of kids with machines that have algorithms attached to them that move them through learning at the pace where the student is. It’s going to sort students. It’s going to stereotype, put up roadblocks and make assumptions about how students should be thinking. In other words, what’s sold as “personalization” can actually become dehumanizing. Teachers, I point out, can and do show biases as well. But teachers can attempt to remedy their bias … teachers are learners in the space, too, but software is not.
Here’s what’s lost when students forfeit schooling for nonstop online learning.
Students miss face-to-face interactions with peers. They mostly work alone at their skill level.
In traditional classes, students contribute their personal experiences to class discussions. They get to express themselves. Through storytelling, students acquire better language skills. Guided by teachers, student experiences become part of the class experience.
It’s like show-and-tell when students are young. Contributing to class interchanges makes learning interesting. We remember subject matter better when it’s connected to stories.
Class dynamics bring students and teachers together. Classroom communications help students understand differences that make us human. Students learn what makes a school and society work.
Students like to socialize in school. It’s part of the school experience. It motivates some to attend school! Students feel engaged when included in class discussions.
Good teachers help quiet students find their voice, and they teach overzealous students to learn to be polite and listen.
Listening skills are critical. Many students learn by listening.
Hearing about the information reinforces what students will remember about the topic. I am an auditory learner, and class discussions always helped me remember the information.
Students who lose out on classroom dynamics, won’t learn about their classmates.
Rules guide classroom dynamics. Students learn politeness and respectfulness.
When should they interrupt? How do they interject their thoughts into the conversation appropriately?
Young children learn to take turns. They develop patience. Learning how to respond to other children teaches self-regulating social skills.
Students learn to listen and respect others, even if they disagree. Sometimes there’s respectful debate.
Students express their feelings, and they get positive or negative feedback. They learn other opinions exist.
Students need opportunities to be included in class discussions so they can emotionally connect with their peers. They won’t get that sitting alone on a computer.
Students learn to respect the differences that make us all unique.
Understanding differences and learning to appreciate each other is what makes a well-run inclusion class so important.
Good class dynamics help students learn tolerance and to be respectful of those who are different than themselves.
Personalized learning avoids this necessary communication.
Personalized learning might provide students with opportunities to connect with students around the world. Gaining access to many people through social media is exciting and a good thing about digital learning.
But real communication happens face-to-face. We will never reach a point where knowing people in person and communicating in real time will be better replaced by screen associations.
Now more than ever, we need to foster the interpersonal relationships between students, so that they feel socially connected learning together. That happens best through class dynamics.