Long Distance Learning

Hurricane Irene has stranded me in Cleveland until Wednesday, which is the earliest flight that I can take back to Boston. While this may not be an ideal situation, I am fortunate to spend more time with my college friends here at Case Western and not fall too far behind thanks to the Internet, from which I can watch lecture videos, access powerpoint slides, and use Google doc to collaborate with classmates back in Boston.

While having face-to-face interaction among students and teachers is irreplaceable, we’ve come a long way of providing education to those especially who don’t have the necessary resources, fortunes or opportunities. From Harvard’s Justice lectures to the Khan Academy, anyone in the world with today’s technology can have access to a good education. MIT’s Open Courseware provides free access to virtually all of MIT’s course content. TED Talks package high-yield, entertaining lectures on a variety of different, interesting topics.

Sitting here in Cleveland watching a lecture that just took place an hour ago in Boston, I can’t help feel that our education landscape is changing. An interesting article in the NYT argues a need to redesign our education system:

“Simply put, we can’t keep preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist. We can’t keep ignoring the formidable cognitive skills they’re developing on their own. And above all, we must stop disparaging digital prowess just because some of us over 40 don’t happen to possess it. An institutional grudge match with the young can sabotage an entire culture. When we criticize students for making digital videos instead of reading “Gravity’s Rainbow,” or squabbling on Politico.com instead of watching “The Candidate,” we are blinding ourselves to the world as it is. And then we’re punishing students for our blindness.”

With the explosion of social media, blogs, tweets, and online videos, the channels that we use to learn and express ourselves are changing. This wasn’t supposed to be such a serious post about education, but the thoughts just poured out. This is a topic I’m immensely interested in so I’ll probably have more to write later especially the implications this has in medicine and medical education.


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