A great example of how digital learning is opening new worlds for people with medical challenges showed up today in the Kentucky Forward news clips service.
NKU professor Rebecca Bailey found herself at a crossroads several years ago. Her medical challenges took her out of her classroom at the university, and she wasn’t sure if she would even be able to teach again. Enter NKU’s Center for Innovation and Technology In Education, and Professor Bailey was up and running, teaching classes from home while she was on the recovery trail.
It’s a great example of how digital learning can open up new opportunities.
I was struck, however, by a comment from Professor Bailey that mirrors my own observations from more than 40 years ago. That is when I was writing instructional program units for the first generation of automated teaching machines ever used in the Unites States Air Force’s pilot training program. As Professor Bailey puts it:
“I learned you just can’t use face-to-face teaching and put it online. It’s similar, but they’re not the same. You have to rethink it and retool it.”
That is exactly right. And, this is why every great classroom teacher might not make a good developer for digital learning programs. Extra skills are required, including special understanding of the restrictions an educator faces when instant student feedback is not available. A digitally-based instructor has to know common student misconceptions and work hard to insure the digital learning program is unlikely to create or continue those errors of understanding.
Not everyone can do digital instruction well, but when you put the right tools and people together, digital learning can really improve opportunities for learning, and that can be true for the teacher as well as the student.