Computers are great but humans are better
Thursday, April 23, 2020
We were originally supposed to start the school year one month late, early in May. When it was decided, I couldn’t imagine that we would be able to teach in May, and I soon suspected we would be teaching online, as other colleges were starting to do. I got an email at midnight of the day the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency, saying that my school would do everything online until August.
I’m 69 and retiring at 70. Until early this year, I was thinking I would just teach the same classes as usual and comfortably slide down to retirement. I started teaching 47 years ago when photocopiers were a novelty, and I’ve kept my teaching very low tech. Now I’m forced to learn things I ducked learning over the years. On top of that, I’ve had to try to learn how to make the switch to online teaching by reading information sent in Japanese - a double load. I can sort of read, but not very well. I’ll be looking at online resources in English soon.
A great thing about scrambling to learn like this is I get completely absorbed in it, and I get satisfaction from learning things I’d wondered how to do but hadn’t absolutely needed to. I forget about the pandemic for hours on end.
Judging by other colleges’ experiences, the whole thing is likely to be a mess and very hard for students, especially first year students. I am rather in awe of younger teachers who can do amazing things with computers in class. It’s good, even necessary to improve your teaching with these tools, but they can’t replace the warmth of human contact.