Are elearning solutions effective in teaching the humanities? Could this mode of teaching where in the teacher is either far away or completely absent, be a complete experience of learning? How could students possibly learn much about art for instance?
What we can learn is limited by the ambit of our experiences and of the media that we are exposed to. Usually, the best media that creates a deep imprint on us is good Literature. However in order to appreciate good literature, we must in turn have already seen what we have read at work in our own lives, even for just a glimmer of this sight is enough and literature will awaken and deepen that glimmer of insight. But if we have not at all seen any part of ourselves or our lives in the text, then the text will never come to life. And this is applicable to teaching as well. What is taught in any humanities classroom, especially if these things have something to do with the profundity of human experience (I am speaking primarily of literature, philosophy, psychology and the arts) but such human profundity of insight can be seen in every humanities subject such as history or sociology. The difference will always be in the slanted use of discourse to achieve whatever power struggle the teachers wish to establish will only translate well if the students have some concrete idea of what is being taught. Otherwise, they will only be able to memorize facts, if they succeed in that at all since the context will always make the facts easier to remember.
The trouble is that elearning solutions cannot help but remove the teacher from the picture. After all, it is the essence of elearning to be fast, easy, and done at one’s own pace. With a full-time teacher, the pace will have to be managed and if the teacher is any good, he or she will continually challenge the students’ thinking.
Perhaps elearning can be used as say a primer for reading support and assessment. But without the full insight of a responding human person, there can be no recitation or no reaction paper written in an elearning class for the arts and letters. The practical applications of quick and accessible training are just incompatible with the image of the Arts and it will probably always be that way until the end of time.
With the humanities, the teacher must always be present. The equation is simple, take away the human, then there is no humanities left at all. Of course courses such as literature can still be taught by computers, but the student will not be able to feel feedback from his or her insights. After all, the essay and reaction, analysis reports are essential to these subjects. And no computer built today is yet able to even process such things. Elearning solutions will always be effective in the corporate arena. It should also be used in the sciences and in math primarily. And finally, it can only act as supplementary or support to the subjects of Humanities.