Is Online Learning the End of the Teacher’s profession?

onlineLearningIn may tech outlooks 2015 is hailed as the year online learning will be breaking through, largely replacing the old-fashioned frontal information transfer we have all been going through in school.

I have two daughters aged 5, and when I observe them dealing with technology and the speed how they adapt to new and changing functionality I cannot but agree that the classic front-facing teaching style will at best brake, at worst break their enthusiasm for learning new things.

However, just because the Prussian way of teaching skills is to be retired, this does not mean that online learning is the cure to all illnesses. In my career, I found the best learning experiences those to be where I was a member of a group of students that jointly established a theory, discovered facts and then decided to hold or abandon that theory. Therefore I do believe the front-facing teacher will not go away, but his prime responsibility will shift from transporter / presenter of facts to a moderator / coach in helping learners to draw conclusions from facts presented to them by technology.

And to be very honest: Isn’t this exactly the same evolution we see in our job as people managers? Back in the 80ies, a people manager’s prime responsibility was to disseminate information from top to bottom and aggregate response from bottom to top. The availability (and acceptance) of personal information technology has made this function obsolete, and whoever still holds team meetings only to distribute news that is readily accessible on an Intranet page or an e-Mail distribution list should not be allowed to waste employee’s time any longer.

The tricky part remains, and this is the real value of a people manager – and of a teacher as well: Assist employees in interpreting facts brought to them and help them make the best out of it. Which channel this information is flowing through is not really of importance in this discussion.

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