All Learning Is Distant

Dateline: April 24 2020
Exactly what is the nature of learning? You don't suddenly get infused with knowledge. Knowledge and aptitude comes by studying what others have done, or are doing, and then... doing it yourself.

So what does a conventional classroom offer that a virtual classroom doesn't? A conventional classroom is, firstly, a space. OK, let's look at that. What (else) is in this space? Is it hot, cold, drafty, cramped? Does it have a distracting view, at which it's easy to gaze? Does it have a distracting view of other people, at who it's also tempting to gaze?

Then there's the deliverer of your education. No matter if they're a genius. Did you manage to catch everything they said?

What was that? "Most people find a 57 Magnum best on a snare" 'Is that some sort of shotgun mic?'

"Singers love reverb." What, you mean like the website?

You can't rewind a teacher. And if you constantly ask for something to be clarified or repeated you'll soon become the class pain.

Flippin' heck!

We're living in a time where whole school systems, never mind individual classrooms have been flipped on their heads. Change is scary. Especially when preceded by a complete stop. But times like these are also precious moments where we have a bit of space to re-assess, re-examine, see if 'actually' there is a better way of doing something. Maybe we can turn adversity into advantage?

The process of learning is the transfer of knowledge. There are many types of knowledge generator: teachers, tutors, guides, masters, peers, authors, presenters and program makers. But there's only one you. You know how quickly you can grasp a concept or how long it takes you to perfect a skill. No matter how the learning process is being conducted, there's a distance between giver and receiver and between the giving and the 'getting.' There always has been.

Distance learning as a concept is nothing to be afraid of. Teachers will always be needed, whether they're standing in front of a class or standing in front of an iPhone.

Long before the current health crisis that decimated the 2020 Academic School Year there's been a steady stream of products and technologies that are closing the physicality gap. Digital Audio Workstations are virtual recording studios. VSTs are virtual instruments (would we really like to go back to heaving an actual Hammond B3 around with us?). We now have virtual mics, and virtual rooms thanks to 'impulse response' technology.

Thanks to Facebook Live or Zoom or Google Hangouts you can be your own virtual teacher. But you still need a support network of materials to show and tell much as you do or did in your real classroom or school studio.

Now is the time not to be afraid but to get on top of or ahead of the technology.

All learning is distant. Technology, actually, is helping to make it less so.