Could Technology Replace the Classroom? Yes. Should it? No.

Producing a decade back, Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters puzzled if online discovering could change actual physical school. Now as they appraise the fees to college students of pandemic driven education and learning, the academics turned school leaders have their reply: Material in a human vacuum simply cannot sustain alone.

By Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters

Virtually 10 years in the past, we requested the adhering to issue, which was, at the time, hypothetical:

“Could an on the net learning program exchange a classroom?”

In a 2012 report for Scientific American, we answered our own question: “Yes, it could. Will it? Most undoubtedly not.”


When we wrote this, we were being classroom academics, prognosticating about the 2012 zeitgeist of concern amongst educators: so much know-how. Indeed, at the time it felt like we ended up driving a big wave of new technological know-how initiatives. In a rush to undertake these new applications, numerous educators were employing the applications for the tools’ own sake, not wanting their craft to appear outdated.


Other people balked at the encroachment of tech resources on to their training territory. The question was in the air: could that engineering ultimately make classrooms and the in-human being classroom understanding working experience obsolete? What would that imply for instruction?

At that time we strongly felt that – no, even as engineering improves exponentially, lecture rooms will not be replaced. We have now lived by means of a time interval that triggered us to dilemma the function and approach of every little thing we do, and that also threw us into the arms of technological know-how as a required indicates to education’s finishes.

Ten many years and a person pandemic later, the globe has provided us a prospect to take a look at our concept. We have noticed what is lost when we do not have accessibility to the brick-and-mortar school rooms. We have felt the oxygen depart the room at the thought of going back to on line mastering, even for a couple of times.

Most students and educators across the place seasoned this to varying levels during the pandemic. It will be years prior to we understand the depths to which students were impacted from this paradigm change in their training.

Our Reasoning in 2012

10 years ago we laid out a very simple argument for why on the internet finding out would not totally stage out in-man or woman learning. The basis of our argument was as follows:

● Classrooms are not just for disseminating info: students have to have to understand expertise to unpack that information – assess it, examine it and develop their personal understandings.

● In purchase to do all of the earlier mentioned, learners will need to be able to collaborate with other students and their academics.

● Our economy is based far more on provider and facial area-to-experience or at the very least interpersonal interactions alternatively than on manufacturing students need to have to have the abilities to collaborate with other folks.

● Education (of younger learners in particular) is as a lot about studying how to be a individual in the planet as it is about attaining tutorial awareness and competencies.

● Academics are an a must have source and have been since eternally changing academics with tech would be ridiculous.

Now that the question is no longer a hypothetical, we can properly say that we concur with all of the over – and extra.

Recent Reasoning: Reflections from a Pandemic

Social and Emotional

A lot of pupils wilted through on the web finding out. This isn’t to say that some young children didn’t love or even prosper academically through distance studying, but they had been in the minority. Matters that we all took for granted right before the pandemic – passing people in the hall, indicating a quick hi, just getting all-around other people – all of these points were gone. Students ended up studying in a social vacuum.

1 mitigating variable were being breakout rooms, which allowed pupils to interact with just about every other in modest teams. But some college students were so self-acutely aware on these virtual platforms that they could not change on their cameras. And numerous learners understood, deep in their intestine, that this was just not pure. It made it tricky for them to acquire in.

Early experiments of the effects of the pandemic clearly show that staying youthful (beneath 18) was a threat issue for greater mental health and fitness difficulties (WHO, 2022). College students who are utilized to currently being close to peers and trustworthy older people at school were being missing a essential component of their guidance system. Seeing folks by a screen, when greater than practically nothing, is no substitute for currently being in-man or woman.

All through the pandemic students seasoned a mental health crisis with self-studies of panic and melancholy doubling in the course of that time (Richtel, 2021). On line university can not be blamed for all of that raise – the pandemic by itself introduced about other worries and key worries that influenced mental wellness – but we can be certain  that the structure of on the internet education contributed to this raise.

Kinesthetic prospects

College students are not meant to sit for 8 hrs straight. As much as we tried using to mitigate students’ volume of time in entrance of a display screen by assigning asynchronous perform, it all came down to being shut to a screen – learners performing on a gadget – even if not in an on line course at the time.

Pupils who required to connect to their buddies would also chat on line or match on the web. At the conclude of the working day, students would have a glazed search in their eyes. PE was a problem on these on-line discovering platforms – learners would require to be pushed to go outdoors – even if they lived in an area the place they had been equipped to properly go outside or experienced PE as an giving in a length studying atmosphere.

For some college students, the major work out and motion they knowledge is in college – and on the internet faculty is the antithesis of movement no make any difference how several Go Noodle, Simon Says, or other resourceful physical exercise and mind-split activities lecturers made or made use of creatively in the course of the pandemic.

Interpersonal Techniques

All of the little and large social interactions that students have in a working day assistance them to understand how to be in the entire world with other people. These interactions are not constantly very simple. Instructors, directors, and other instruction pros are there to aid college student discovering in this regard: when an difficulty arrives up amongst learners, instructors can give the pupils tools to solve the difficulty and support mediate problems.

Without these options to learn from interpersonal interactions, pupils stay in their personal solipsistic bubble, not staying challenged by other people – and finally, not studying these critical interpersonal expertise.

In the really tightly structured on-line classroom, interactions are planned – and quite hardly ever by happenstance as would be the case for an conversation on the playground or the basketball court. Also: on-line, college students do not have the normal anchors of in-person finding out. Walking away in the bodily globe is significantly harder than turning off your display screen.


All of these issues have been, in some means, troubles confronted by the privileged. Numerous college students across the place did not have a lot obtain to technologies, which resulted in learning decline and isolation. There isn’t nevertheless fairness in phrases of know-how and what is out there for ALL learners.


We are the two directors in independent colleges in California. Supporting our lecturers, and of system our pupils, in the course of the pandemic was of the greatest relevance. The situations of 2020 and 2021 burnt out our educators (Schabram & Heng, 2021). The pressures of hybrid lecture rooms (wherever each on line and in-individual college students are existing), Covid protocols, Covid fears, and the lack of normalized connections involving colleagues and college students ended up all a “motivation suck.”

To have on line lecture rooms, you need to have online instructors – and right after this expertise, even though acquiring an online possibility can be amazingly practical with health and fitness emergencies or inviting company into school rooms, and other situations of the extenuating selection – academics are very likely not lining up to instruct in this structure.

Unintended Outcomes of Online Studying

As directors, we are deeply knowledgeable that college students engage with tech otherwise now than they did in advance of the pandemic. Center grades learners figured out early on that they could binge watch Netflix during class, and teachers had a more durable time catching them. They obtained entirely used to becoming ready to message friends and look for for content with no checks. They experienced backchannels on Discord and were being much more adept at getting all-around information blocks.

In the long run, they created the habit of splitting their concentration among a range of various electronic stimuli, all of which are created to activate their dopamine stages additional quickly and simplistically than college and those people important finding out things to do that need much more sophisticated engagement.

The selection of bad tech patterns learners picked up is way too terrific to record right here, permit by itself the written content they had been exposed to that was outside of instructor and family members control. Now that they are back again in the classroom, we see students who are not able to prevent multitasking. Together with that, we locate an raise in know-how-connected infractions.

Resets are needed but complicated to enforce as students’ tech use is generally furtive, equally at residence and in the classroom. Students’ brains are not made adequate, nor do they have all the techniques and applications, to have unfettered access to the Online, online games, and social media.

The absence of brick-and-mortar classrooms has also led to pupils who have lost even far more of a feeling of an recognition of other people past what is developmentally anticipated. Young children have to have so a great deal more prompting to clean up up after them selves, to take care of their classroom and faculty neighborhood.

Lecturers need to re-train specified basic community competencies that assist pupils to bear in mind that they need to consider in advance of they speak, be mindful of men and women all-around them, take obligation for their actions, and search out for other associates of their communities.

All of these so-named “soft skills” along with empathy, self-regulation, and local community responsibility are cornerstones of classroom curricula. And while on the internet studying makes it possible for for the supply of content material, albeit not essentially in the most engaging way, there are small to no options for pupils to practice these other expertise in neighborhood.

Can on the web learning replace the classroom? Here’s the 2022 remedy to the 2012 query: No. Not if we want students to develop up to care about the neighborhood and the world close to them, and to be adept at going by means of the planet with a modicum of self- and other-recognition.

Final Views

We are not saying that there is not a area for technological know-how in the classroom – we are massive proponents of purposeful tech use à la the SAMR model (Puentedura, 2006). However, we’ve now tried the on the internet classroom method, and, when comparing that expertise to in-man or woman college, all those positive aspects of in-individual schooling – social connections, psychological support, interpersonal interactions, feeling of obligation to self and local community and bodily motion – can’t be overstated, specifically for more youthful learners.

Definitely, mastering is not just about expertise and articles – it is the interactions that solidify that studying. It’s the emotions of becoming all over people, in neighborhood, that can permit college students to learn about themselves and one yet another. Articles in a human vacuum can not maintain by itself. We’ve found the upcoming of on line learning – and it’s just not sufficient for a comprehensive instruction.

Is effective Cited

Passanisi, J. and Peters, S. (2012, June 28). Academics and directors, don’t be scared of technological know-how: It won’t replace the classroom. Scientific American Site Community. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from innovation-it-wont-swap-the-classroom/

Puentedura, R. (2006, August 18). Transformation, Technologies, and Training. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from

Richtel, M. (2021, December 7). Surgeon common warns of Youth Psychological Well being Crisis. The New York Situations. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from and anxiety.html

Schabram, K., & Heng, Y. T. (2021, April 28). Educators and College students Are Burned Out. These Approaches Can Assistance. Harvard Small business Publishing Schooling. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from

Earth Health Firm. (2022, March 2). Mental wellness and covid-19: Early evidence of the pandemic’s influence. Environment Overall health Firm. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from

Jody Passanisi is Director of Middle Faculty at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto CA and teaches Social Reports techniques to instructors at Mt. St. Mary’s University and Hebrew Union College’s DeLeT system. She has composed about training for Scientific American and Training 7 days and has co-hosted a podcast, “Find You a Trainer,” alongside with Shara Peters. Her book, History Class Revisited, is co-revealed by Routledge and MiddleWeb.

Shara Peters is the Basic Reports Principal at Pressman Academy in Los Angeles and has formerly held roles at schools in Southern California which includes Teacher, Curriculum Director, and Head of Faculty. She has penned about schooling for Scientific American and Instruction Week, and co-hosted a podcast, “Find Yourself a Teacher,” alongside with Jody Passanisi. Shara was a 2019 recipient of the Pomegranate Prize from the Covenant Basis, a countrywide management award supplied to Jewish educators for fantastic provider as rising professionals in options across the state.

Jody and Shara were being the originators of MiddleWeb’s Long run of Background weblog. Locate their posts right here.