24. Old Wine in New Bottles: Classroom-Type Online Learning

24.4. The Limitations of the Classroom Design Model for Online Learning

Old wine can still be good wine, whether the bottle is new or not. What matters is whether classroom design meets the changing needs of a digital age. However, just adding technology to the mix, or delivering the same design online, does not automatically result in meeting changing needs.

It is important then to look at the design that makes the most of the educational affordances of new technologies, because unless the design changes significantly to take full advantage of the potential of the technology, the outcome is likely to be inferior to that of the physical classroom model which it is attempting to imitate. Thus even if the new technology, such as lecture capture and computer-based multiple-choice questions organized in a MOOC, result in helping more students memorize better or learn more content, for example, this may not be sufficient to meet the higher-level skills needed in a digital age.

The second danger of just adding new technology to the classroom design is that we may just be increasing cost, both in terms of technology and the time of instructors, without changing outcomes.

The most important reason though is that students studying online are in a different learning environment or context than students learning in a classroom, and the design needs to take account of this. This will be discussed more fully in the rest of the book.

Education is no exception to the phenomenon of new technologies being used at first merely to reproduce earlier design models before they find their unique potential. However, changes to the basic design model are needed if the demands of a digital age and the full potential of new technology are to be exploited in education.