University of Canterbury professor warns online learning could create less informed workforce

University of Canterbury professor warns online learning could create less informed workforce

When COVID-19 spread across the world, students were forced to revert to online learning while many businesses switched to working from home. Since the pandemic restrictions have eased and life has gone back to general normalcy, many businesses and educational institutions alike have continued to offer an online alternative to in-person work or learning.

Mike Grimshaw, an Associate Professor at Canterbury University, told REX host Dom George he is concerned about the trend of students attending online lectures but failing to fully engage or comprehend the material," he said.

"What we actually know also is that most students who don't turn up actually aren't even properly listening, if at all, to the recorded lectures. 

"We're creating an omnishambles, a type of educational chaos that's going to flow through into the workforce." 

Grimshaw noted the failure of the school system to adequately prepare students for university. He highlighted the issues of under-socialisation and the lack of critical thinking skills among students. 

"The school systems are broken, and we know that, and they're broken all the way down to primary schools, and so we're getting a generation of disengaged, under-educated but also increasingly under-socialised as well."

He also touched on the potential of the agriculture sector as a source of employment and educational opportunities for students. The pair delved into the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education and agriculture. Grimshaw believes that while AI can answer complex questions, it lacks the human intelligence necessary to understand certain sectors, like farming. 

"I don't know why we want to give up talking with and drawing on human intelligence rather than just machine processing, and that's really the question underneath." 

Grimshaw emphasised the importance of active societal engagement, conversation, and critical thinking. He warns of the dangers of societal disengagement, especially in education, parenting, and politics. 

Listen to the full chat between Mike Grimshaw and Dominic George above.

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