Coming from a developing country, where technology cannot be always relied on*, online pedagogy and all its affordances sound a bit utopian to me, although I know this is being practiced very successfully in the developed countries and its benefits cannot be denied. (We also have a virtual university in Pakistan but I have never met or heard of a person who has completed his/her education from that university. We also have an Open University, based on Distance Learning, one of the biggest and successful open universities in the world, but it still follows the old school methods, away from New Media literacy.)
Having come to know more about online pedagogy from the week’s readings, all I can think of is questions! And a whole bunch of them.
- Is online writing lab (OWL) replacing the need for a flesh and blood instructor?
- What about listening and speaking skills in English classes that incorporate all the four skills in a regular classroom? Can the use of Skype and other similar resources accommodate the need?
- Is online pedagogy reshaping student teacher relationship?
- Will the teacher be replaced by technology, just as the book is already being replaced?
- Although Hewett does talk about the choice of asynchronous and synchronous modality, isn’t the teacher being deprived of a personal space and being considered a 7/24/365 employee?
- Won’t the lack of face-to-face interaction increase ‘homophobia’ that we are already battling with?
- How will the cultural values and morality be passed on to the students, especially in the cultures where this is the job of a teacher to do in a classroom?
- Where will the students find their role models, as they are supposed to in some cultures at least, in form of their teachers?
And one overarching question with which I will conclude is that will the fine line between place and space soon be blurred, and instead of these big buildings called Universities we will have virtual spaces mediated through technology?
* We have acute power supply issues in Pakistan, like many other developing countries.