I was recently with a group of educators discussing online learning. The teachers emphasized how, in the face-to-face world of teaching, the building of relationships was very important to enhance the learning process. They suggested that if they taught online, they would lose the opportunity to build the same types of relationships. I explained that interactions online are not better or worse than interactions face-to-face, they are just different. In the face-to-face world, communications between teachers and students is primarily face-to-face in a classroom setting. Some teachers may use web or online enhanced methods of communication such as posting assignments online or using websites for instruction.
In the online world, there are multiple ways to communicate with students: websites, discussion boards, chat rooms, texting, video conferencing, web conferencing/collaborative tools and social media tools. Each provides a different way of communicating with students and each can provide a way to increase the teacher-student relationship that helps to cause learning to occur.
I continue to think about the relationships that are built online and the different vehicles that can do this. My 21-year-old daughter is studying abroad at CSU Florence for the year. She is a history and art history major and loves the World War II time period. During her fall break, she went to Krakow, Poland where she toured Auschwits and Birkenau, two concentration campus used during World War II by the Nazis to exterminate Jews. She texted with me following her tour (we had agreed we would use this communication since it is a free service through Skype – she occasionally uses her phone to call). Notice the depth of communication in our text interaction below. I don’t think I would have learned the same information if we had been talking on the phone. If you are short on time, read the first 6 interactions and then jump to the last 2.
10/24/2011, 12:24 pm
Dad (me): How was the tour of Auschwitz in Krakow?
Daughter: Good. We had a really great tour guide who was very appropriate. Somber though. Still hard to wrap your mind around
Dad: Wow. I can imagine. Still hard to believe that really happened huh?
Daughter: Seriously. There was an exhibit portion that had tons of hair that had been cut off of Pols when they came to the camp. It was almost too hard to look at. We also went into the first of the gas chambers which I nearly didn’t go into because it was just too much
Dad: Something you will probably never forget. Did you take any pics?
Daughter: Ya I did. It’s really an incredible site. The first camp of Auschwitz is pretty small and the second Auschwitz Birkenau is huge. We went into the barracks where the prisoners stayed and everything. It was crazy. I have pics of quite a bit but some stuff I couldn’t take pictures of.
Dad: Amazing. Are you doing something tonight?
Daughter: We went to see a small orchestra play at a church
Dad: Fun. How was that? How was the music?
Daughter: Excellent. I thought of Nanni [Grandma]. She would have loved it. They played Vivaldi’s four season and one by Bach. It was really neat
Dad: That is nice. How many people in the audience?
Daughter: Not a lot. Maybe 35 ppl. This group performs there almost every night with different sets of music.
Dad: You were probably the only Americans there. Did you get a pic of the church?
Daughter: Yep. It was a 17th century baroque church
Dad: Wow. Listen to how you know that!
Daughter: It was pretty though, I think I prefer the Romanesque and gothic styles
Dad: fun…do you remember the name of the church you visited?
Daughter: It’s the church of st. Peter and st. Paul. There’s 120 churches in Kracow. It’s been called a second Rome
Dad: i just Googled it to take a look. It has a pretty cool dome. Sounds like that was a nice hostel. And sounds like you liked Krakow…would you like to go back there?
Daughter: Ya it would be cool to come back. Not visit Auschwitz again probably.