I’ve had some spirited conversations with faculty in my one-on-one meetings about how we deliver our curriculum: the advantages and disadvantages of lecture capture, whether we should use more online formats, what we can do to engage students and so forth. I am impressed by the commitment of faculty to their teaching, have learned a lot about what we do in the classroom and my thinking on these issues continues to evolve. I’m not a Luddite, but believe our future lies in face-to-face education and blended learning formats. In a nutshell, here’s why:
Online formats are about convenience and flexibility. The course can be consumed where the student wants at a time convenient to him or her. Online products allow the student to “fit it into” her schedule and promise to let her learn on her own terms: to balance education with all the other things going on in a life.
In contrast, face to face education requires discipline and discomfort. This format demands students’ attention. It happens at inconvenient times. It forces students out of their comfort zones and into situations they would rather avoid. It does this in public where students are surrounded by peers.
Yet, it is in this discomfort where “aha” moments happen, horizons expand, perspectives change, and people transform. No meaningful learning (or change in organizations) occurs without it. Don’t confuse such learning (or fundamental change) with getting good grades or acquiring information (or writing new strategic plans), those can be generated with no discomfort at all.
It would be great if learning could be convenient: on our schedule and in the safe confines of our homes. It just doesn’t work that way. The sooner we embrace the discomfort, the better off we will be.
Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at http://www.bus.ucf.edu/dean. The following post appeared on September 10, 2012. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley.