The online world has created a sense of global connectivity. The use of computers and online social networking connects us all. We are told that the future of learning and education is online social connection. People continue to be lifelong learners as they now have access to others around the world and can connect to their educators from the privacy of their own home.
But are we truly connected? Technology is leading us down the road of independence. Gone is the necessity for students to find their way to actual classrooms and interact with their peers face to face. Concepts like MOOCs and University of the People allow students to continue their education without ever setting foot in a learning institution. Perhaps I am wrong, but I can’t seem to understand how this strengthens our connection. COETAIL is a great example. The people I regularly talk to from this course are people I knew before or meet in person since the start of the program. How does a group of people sitting at computers around the world, typing, bring us together more than sharing classroom and discussion space? I need to meet with people to feel truly connected and invested in our collaborative educational journey.
The future of education is independence. The future of education is self-motivated students who do not require teacher cheerleaders or incentives to learn. The future of education scares me a little.
I don’t think the majority of social humans are ready for this independence. Most of us enjoy our daily interactions with our peers, and something is lost when those interactions are moved to a computer screen.
As a middle school teacher, I find a number of students every year who will struggle in this new independent educational world. They are not internally motivated. Dan Pink explains in his video that humans are internally motivated when it comes to creative projects, but I wonder is that truly for middle schoolers? I must prepare my students for this new reality. My students don’t appear to be all that motivated by grades, or by consequences like detentions, or even the candy their math teacher gives them. There is no one thing that motivates them. In essence, the majority of my students seem to only work hard and well when they enjoy the project. Ah, maybe they are more internally motivated than I give them credit for. Maybe my middle schoolers have already moved toward the independent educational future where they will able to study what they like, when they like and from where they like. As the embark on their journey into their educational future, I must let them go on their own to find their own motivation. After all, independence is the future of education.