The pull of the screen

Rebecca Reynolds blog - Charfassion Orphanage Bangladesh

© Charfassion Orphanage, Bangladesh

While giving an online English lesson to two boys in a Bangladeshi orphanage recently, I noticed a hooded figure in the background. Another boy had approached, pulled up his red sweatshirt hood completely, zipped it right up to cover his face and stood there, unable to see. It looked hilarious, like a mini Santa Claus gone wrong. I could not help laughing and had to stop the lesson for a moment.

I’m not sure he would have done that if I had been actually in the room. And in fact during online lessons boys often cluster around to see what is going on, some only briefly, some staying for longer. Initially this disconcerted me, but now I find it endearing.

This made me wonder about how the teacher-student relationship might change when it is online. Is the technology ‘transparent’ so that the teaching continues as it would face-to-face? Or does the online environment bring certain features to learning, just as the classroom does? For example, people are often mysteriously attracted by television or computer screens, and associate them with pleasure or leisure, whereas this might not apply to textbooks. This might influence the learning that takes place. What do other teachers and students think?

January 30, 2015