Indiana U. Professor: Online Education Is Awkward and Ineffective for College Students

CAMBRIDGE, MA - DECEMBER 16: A gate sits locked on Quincy Street at Harvard University during a bomb scare December 16, 2013 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Police were alerted at roughly nine thirty this morning of possible bombs at four different buildings on the Harvard campus. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Darren McCollester/Getty

Lauren MacLean, the chair of the political science department at Indiana University, Bloomington, argued in an op-ed published on Sunday that students will face personal and professional consequences if campuses do not reopen for the fall semester.

Lauren MacLean, the chair of the political science department at Indiana University, Bloomington, penned a column for the Indianapolis Star this week on the consequences of keeping campuses closed for the upcoming fall semester.

MacLean claims that online learning technology lowers the quality of education. She argues that large lectures become “awkward” as professors are unable to see all students on their screen at one time. Moreover, classroom discussions frequently become impractical.

Faculty miss the everyday in-person connections with our colleagues, students and staff. For Lauren, a Zoom meeting with a class of 50 students literally pushes many faces off the screen. Reading questions and comments in the chat turns a live discussion asynchronous. We are all trying our best, but it’s just awkward, and our timing is off. We stay at the surface because we can stop video and hide behind our screens at home. Not forced to share our vulnerabilities face-to-face, we can’t have the same tough conversations in our classrooms, labs, departments, or administrative offices.

MacLean argues that future generations of students deserve to have the same campus experience afforded to current and prior generations. If universities and colleges adopt a distance learning model, students may be deprived of certain freedoms and networking opportunities.

Many of us have already had our chance to be on a college campus. But what about the entering class of students, new faculty, and staff? How will they gain their freedoms and make their connections if we are forced to continue remotely? Freshmen are not the only ones seriously considering a leave of absence this fall. Upperclassmen debate whether online classes are worth the cost; international students may not be able to obtain visas or travel; and, all students may struggle to pay tuition with looming economic hardships. The potential loss to campus extends well beyond one cohort. The coming semester’s shortfall will cause problems for at least the next four years.

Breitbart News reported in April that many universities and colleges have announced plans to reopen their campuses for the fall semester. Purdue University, North Carolina State, Michigan State, and Brown University are amongst the institutions that have announced plans to reopen.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for more campus updates.

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