Change…

I have recently been learning about Media Ecology.  I am still at a very novice stage – my interests lie in helping education incorporate more visual appeal – especially as education is being moved online.  To help educators understand the implications of creating learning online.

Change, and dealing with change is always difficult.  In  a discussion forum a quote from The Magnificent Ambersons (Tarkington, 1918) came up in the context of change and efficiency.

When tactless George Amberson summarily dismisses automobiles as “a useless
nuisance,” his would-be father-in-law, Eugene Morgan, a manufacturer of the
new-fangled automobile, answers perceptively:

“I’m not sure he’s wrong about automobiles. With all their speed forward they
may be a step backward in civilization-that is, in spiritual civilization.
It may be that they will not add to the beauty of the world, nor to the life
of men’s souls. I am not sure. But automobiles have come, and they bring a
greater change in our life than most of us expect. They are here, and almost
all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring.
They are going to alter war, and they are going to alter peace. I think
men’s minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles;
Just how, though, I could hardly guess. But you can’t have the immense
outward changes that they will cause without some inward ones, and it may be
that George is right, and that the spiritual alteration will be bad for us.
Perhaps, ten or twenty years from now, if we can see the inward change in
men by that time, I shouldn’t be able to defend the gasoline engine, but
would have to agree with him that automobiles “had no business to be
invented.”

Online learning is the “big” change in education that touts the banner of supposed efficiency. There is much that needs to be done to improve education, but in the context of the quote above – what if we simply replaced “automobiles” with “online learning”…

…with all [the] [immediate accessibility or other desirable attribute] [online learning] may be a step backward in civilization – that is, in spiritual civilization.  It may be that [it] will not add to the beauty of the world, nor to the life of men’s souls…

I do believe that learning is good and true learning would add to men’s souls – but it is something to think about.

…But [online learning] [has] come, and [it] bring[s] a greater change in our life than most of us expect. [It is] here, and almost all outward things are going to be different because of what [it] bring[s]…

Hopefully, online learning would bring greater accessibility to a greater amount of people in a greater amount of places.  How will it change  the way we understand life and the experiences that many have as common experiences to draw upon?

…[It is] going to alter war, and [it is] going to alter peace.  I think men’s minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of [online learning]; just how, though, I could hardly guess…

With the various research being done about how video games and other media change the way the brain thinks – I wonder if online learning will change the way people learn.  Physically, the brain has great capacity to re-wire; will online learning re-wire our students brains?  How big a gap would that create between the generations with online learning and those without?

…But you can’t have the immense outward changes that [it] will cause without some inward ones, and it may be that George is right, and that the spiritual alteration will be bad for us.  Perhaps, ten or twenty years from now, if we can see the inward change in men by that time, I shouldn’t be able to defend [online learning], but would have to agree with him that [online learning] ‘had no business to be invented’…

I don’t think I would go so far as to say that online learning should not have been invented.  And I do believe that we should not keep education in the same old rut it has been in for far too long.  But as we look at how we are attempting to change education, we should pause and weigh the balance between the outward changes and the unknown inward changes.

Just an interesting side-bar to think about…

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