30 March 2007

Judging by your face . . .

Well folks,
Greetings !
I have noticed recently that students in online distance education are still invited (if not required) to introduce themselves, and follow others customarily in posting up a face photo or so. I want to ask why !!!
The purpose of education is to develop one's knowledge and share meanings and ideas.
Well of course I have a playboy figure, blond hair, blue eyes or whatever - but do these get me the grade A ??!!
And what judgements do others make of one's shapely figure, cheekbones, and hair colour, not to mention superb fashion sense, sportscar and bright 'marakesh' red BMW bike ? What on earth have these to do with education ?

Nigel Blake of the UK Open University advocates clearly the academic objectivity quality of distance education, to discuss ideas and attack these not the person, and avoid the subjectivity of face-to-face introductions. Ohhh these are touted by instructors as easing us into an online community of learners - let's all choose our partners and group members by their eye colour ...

We need to be alert ever more strongly in our aims to bring openness and inclusivity in education to the retarded, homeless, poor, unwashed, homeless, foreign, and so on. Let's focus on your mind not your body !

I was at college, with my office next to that of Stephen Hawking (http://www.hawking.org.uk/) at ABC university. How so much poorer would the world be if we had let first appearances colour our judgement !

I heard a rumour... that half the people posting up the beautiful blonde faces were old guys in prison trying to ensnare rich foolish guys, and that the other half were the FBI trying to catch those old guys trying to catch the teenage blondes.
What has all this got to do with education ?

Online distance education courses start off with a face-to-face session to meet and get to know each other ...
How fair is that to us old coloured folk in a wheelchair ?

All Best Wishes


Janet P Gubbins said...

Very good point. I don't see the need for a required F2F meeting. BUT, I personally tend to be partially motivated to talk with and collaborate with people whom I feel 'connected' in some way. I don't look at the pictures. When I think "Paul" I think "funny, smart guy, dry wit, in Japan" and when I think "Becca" I now think "professor going to Argentina, love Koalas and grandbabies" and when I think "Martha" I think "math teacher/ admin". Now, I also read and consider their individual view points and am more likely to want to log on again next week to check on my virtual friend's new experiences/ thoughts... more likely to logon.. more likely to learn from and with them/ you.
I think this 'feeling' is what they call 'creating a feeling of community' - a community of learners. An even later, if I meet some virtual friends in person (like at a conference), I NEVER recognize them - I don't recall a picture of what they look like - not a face - but their 'personality'.

Janet P Gubbins said...

okay - I posted this really long and wonderful (I think) reply.. and Blogger ate it.

what I said was that I agree with your points in general; but do think that getting to know classmates help create a sense of community and FOR ME that is what keeps me coming back - logging in - learning from and with the 'personalities' in the class. Sure, I might login anyway because I have to.. or because of some great intellectual discourse.. but it makes it more enjoyable/ motivates me to think 'hey, let's see what my friends have said today'. And i don't think 'that guy with the blond hair' I think ' that smart funny guy from Japan'.