Second Reaction To Distance Learning

Dave Vargo

Having the instructor of the class in the room with the student alters the distance learning experience. When the instructor speaks there is a conflict between watching him and looking at the monitor image of him. The image on the monitor usually prevails. There is a fear that looking away from the monitor will result in a loss of information. This is not rational, but one still feels drawn to the monitor.

This writer still feels a bit uncomfortable on camera. In a "real" class, not everyone is focused on the individual commenting. The camera acts to direct concentration. It also serves to homogenize the visual perspective of the individual. Body language which would be seen from a variety of viewpoints is, on the Berkeley side, seen from only one perceptive. An important issue is whether this lack of diversity in physical view creates a type of mass consumption.

With the large number of comments it is difficult to remember what one wants to say. The breadth of the class allows for quick changes in subjects. In addition, it is not possible for the instructor to see all the hands at once and it may be that the comments are not presented in the order of signaling. One side may temporarily dominate the discussion. The instructor does a good job of remembering the other side of the class, however.

The glare from the fluorescent lights on the monitors is still annoying, but the audio remains quite good and exceeds that of a recent telephone conversation experienced by this writer. Slowly, any inhibitions of the class should be cast aside as familiarity increases.