Video Killed the Classroom Star

Here’s a half-hour interview with me on Radio Felician University, on the pros and cons of online learning during the coronavirus crisis. I’m interviewed by two of my applied ethics students at Felician, Kiera Benson and Nicole Cacciatore (“Nicole Catch”). The interview aired  in late April.

I find it ironic that after about a decade of industry-wide hype about the imperative to switch all of our classes to a fully online format, now that we are fully online, people are crying crocodile tears about the pedagogical inadequacies of online learning. In other words, online teaching was a panacea before the pandemic; now that there’s a pandemic raging, the imperative is to return to the physical classroom.

My favorite proposal is to go hybrid–one day online, one day in the classroom–on the premise, I guess, that if you cut a reasonable compromise with the coronavirus, it won’t infect you. The alternative hypothesis is that by showing up one day and not the other, you undercut the whole point of not showing up. I hate to break this to anyone, but when you combine a day of community spread with a day of self-quarantine, you don’t get “credit” for the day of quarantine. You just get an incoherent policy one half of which cancels out the other.

But leave it to a bunch of university administrators to roll this bullshit out, clicking fancy Power Point slides, and reading directly off them to a soundtrack of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.” A better tune might be Chopin’s funeral march, or maybe Accept’s “Pandemic.”

I’ve also been watching parents react with great umbrage at the idea of online teaching, the premise being that “that ain’t working” and it ain’t what they were paying for. I always feel like asking these people if they’d be willing to sign a waiver of liability getting the university off the hook if Johnny or Ashley croaked of coronavirus. “Yes, your daughter got an A in my class. It’s too bad that what’s left of her are a bunch of ashes in an urn. She had such promise!”

I sometimes wonder whether the purpose of pedagogical fads is to destroy everybody’s life for no reason, just to see how they’ll react. But that may be an uncharitable interpretation. There could be a reason.

I’m contemplating the idea of doing a radio show next semester, but I’m not sure whether admin or the FCC would be down with that. What I said on air wouldn’t differ at all from what I put in print. The legalities are a separate matter. Stay tuned.

Thanks to Kiera Benson, Nicole Cacciatore, Terry McAteer, and Jeff Shelly for making the interview happen.

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