Online learning. Supposedly the thing that will help everyone become a participant in the economy and be able to educate themselves to become the new social entrepanuer, entrepaneur, business owner, newest new newey thing, etc.
But, what ever really comes out of online learning? Is there really any THING, that one can point to and say they’ve learned this or that in order to create a THING. Sure, you can learn some coding, in a very limited way that so far, I don’t think has led to any serious break throughs.
I think an important question never asked about online learning is, what are the things that online learning CANNOT teach? Really, it seems like all of the most important skills needed to be a human or to really be useful fall into the cannot-be-taught-online bucket. First example is every skilled trade: pipefitting, brick laying, carpentry, welding, plumbing, truck-driving, teaching (quality-wise) basically, if it has a union, it is something you cannot learn online and generally, if it has a union, we need it for society. Second, any and all physical sports, if you move on a field you cannot learn it online. This one is important for physical health, mental well-being and generally being social too in most cases (it’s the one situation where focusing on “teamwork” can be beneficial too). Third, food. Sure, there can be an online course showing how to cook food but, there isn’t an online course to get you to be a gardener they can teach the ideas behind it but, to actually learn, one must put seeds into the ground and then real agriculture cannot be taught online because there is no one-size-fits-all for farming, we’re just going to skip over the wisdom that one has to gain about weather, soils and everything else someone in agriculture has to know.
So, an online course cannot teach you how to influence the world, move through the world, or use the world to provide for a basic necessity. Sometimes it feels like online courses are just a conspiracy to make everyone feel good with more certificates to hang up and a way to show insurance companies that “we have trained our employees” and allow companies to make the trite claim that “our employees are our best resource” without actually accomplishing anything.
So instead of constantly being enamored with these free online courses and living online, take a minute to think about all the things one cannot do digitally, consider most of our analog existence, our analog skills and wonder, why aren’t we focused on those things more?