Online learning, MOOC’s, and the Deterioration of Community

Let's hear it for "co-presence"!

Postman, 1995: “When two human beings get together, they're co-present, there is built into it a certain responsibility we have for each other, and when people are co-present in family relationships and other relationships, that responsibility is there. You can't just turn off a person. On the Internet, you can. And I wonder if this doesn't diminish that built-in, human sense of responsibility we have for each other. Then also one wonders about social skills; that after all, talking to someone on the Internet is a different proposition from being in the same room with someone--not in terms of responsibility but just in terms of revealing who you are and discovering who the other person is. As a matter of fact, I'm one of the few people not only that you're likely to interview but maybe ever meet who is opposed to the use of personal computers in school because school, it seems to me, has always largely been about how to learn as part of a group. School has never really been about individualized learning but about how to be socialized as a citizen and as a human being, so that we, we have important rules in school, always emphasizing the fact that one is part of a group. And I worry about the personal computer because it seems, once again to emphasize individualized learning, individualized activity.”



Jason Hills said...

I've been using online discussion forums in my in-person classes to help foster community. This semester, I'm implementing them in every class for the first time. So far, there has been little cross-over between the online and in-class personas. That said, I expected it, since many feel more comfortable in a semi-anonymous setting, although my true goal was to foster in-person community via online "presence." Perhaps this is a mistaken idea?

hilde said...

I don't think it's mistaken at all, and good for you for trying. I think, in a way, the difficulty illustrates the kind of deterioration of sociability Postman is worried about.

Pfern said...

Only if taken the absolutely WRONG way. MOOCS are targetted to geographically disperse communities, distance does not matter, neither cultural background, economy, etc. Some of the beauty in MOOCS lies there. It seems to me that the concept of community has changed already.
Some people will take longer to notice it than others.