When schools closed due to COVID-19, education’s challenges didn’t disappear. They just moved online with a host of new problems, making today’s version of remote learning an unlikely solution to what the future of education holds, argue TC’s Nick Wasserman, Nathan Holbert and Paulo Blikstein in a new op-ed for New York Daily News.

Indeed, the three argue, online instruction in its current state too often simply replicates a deeply flawed status quo.

“We do education a great disservice when we describe it as only about memorizing or using facts,” the TC faculty write in response to growing calls to expand remote learning in lieu of traditional schooling when the pandemic ends. “Learning certainly involves the mind, but also interactions between students, teacher and student, and learning spaces and tools” for “diverse, rich, and multimodal educational experiences.”

Blikstein and Holbert — faculty in TC’s Communication, Media and Learning Technologies Design program — and Wasserman, of TC’s Mathematics Education program, outline five key reasons as to why online learning in its current form is not a universal solution to traditional education’s challenges, like cost, inclusivity, ingenuity and more.

Their five core points include:

  • School’s value lies in a collection of experiences often deeply intertwined with building social relationships.
  • Knowledge is more than a “transmission” of information, but is rather “constructed when we bring our prior understanding in interaction with new ideas, experiences, and environments.”
  • “Online learning is neither cheaper nor easier than in-person instruction” according to research, and high-quality online learning requires even more investment.
  • The presence of technology alone does not make learning more engaging or effective, writes the group. Lectures are still lectures; traditional textbooks on an iPad are still just textbooks. “New and emerging technologies can instead be used to tweak or enhance existing structures and systems in ways that leverage their particular educational affordances.”
  • “Technology use does not placate issues of equity in education. In fact, it can make them worse by outsourcing many of the costs of education to families,” write the group, citing concerns related to economic inequality, the digital divide and proper accommodations for students with learning disabilities.

Read the full op-ed by Blikstein, Holbert and Wasserman.