(Bloomberg Opinion) — I rise to defend the classroom: that traditional venue where the students sit, the teacher declaims and the educational technology has hardly advanced in centuries. This old-fashioned arrangement has been abandoned in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, all of us, learners and teachers, have been reduced to tiles on a screen, competing for attention with all the distracting detritus of the digital age.
Let me be clear: I deny neither the dangers of the pandemic nor the utility of the virtual classroom in this moment. Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge what online learning misses. Here, then, on the basis of nearly four decades of experience, is what we might call “The Case for the Classroom”:
First: Physical presence allows the instructor to read the room. A good teacher does more than stand up and lecture and answer the occasional question. The delivery of the material