As Calvin’s president, I am often asked whether I believe that traditional 教室 学习 at the university level is obsolete. 我不. But declarations from pundits, far removed from the student experience, have wrongly declared the death of the traditional 教室.

In the midst of this 流感大流行, I began a practice of weekly office hours with students. We gather online in small groups, 和 I invite them to share an experience, propose a topic for discussion, or ask a question about 加尔文大学. These times together have been wonderful.

One of the most important insights I have gained from these conversations is how deeply our traditional residential students yearn for the experience of community-based incarnate 学习. The students describe the value of relational 学习 from professors 和 one another, discussion 和 debate with nuance 和 passion, 和 the chance encounters with students, 工作人员, 和老师.

I received an article co-published by Calvin alumni Peter Boumgarden ’05Abram Van Engen ’03. A key observation I appreciated is the identification of the physical energy required to attentively listen. This is a hard task under the best of circumstances, but the temptation to “check out” is far greater in Zoomworld.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to see the application of such considerable academic talent devoted to delivering excellent 学习 in new ways.”

“[There is a] communal aspect of attentiveness crafted by coming together in a shared space,”他们写道. “When the speaker is in the same room with you, maybe even right beside you, the sense of listening—和 the importance of speaking—each becomes elevated.”

Attentiveness is really hard work. Most teachers who have taught in a traditional 教室 notice when it is being practiced 和 notice when it is absent. In the virtual 教室, or any virtual meeting, the distractions 和 temptations are ubiquitous. I know this because I too have succumbed to the siren song of some notification going off on my screen.

I expected traditional teachers to miss the physical 教室, but the most pleasant surprise to me is how much the students miss it. Our return to in-person 学习 has been a joy for all of us.

This 流感大流行 occasion has also caused many thoughtful, creative traditional teachers to cross the Rubicon into online teaching 和 instructional design. These faculty love their students, however they choose to learn, 和 are committed to making their virtual courses a worthy academic experience. I would never have wished the 挑战 of this season on my colleagues but, 作为一名管理员, I couldn’t be more pleased to see the application of such considerable academic talent devoted to delivering excellent 学习 in new ways.

Millions of nontraditional graduate 和 undergraduate students, working full time 和 tending to family 和 other responsibilities, find the convenience of online 学习 to be the best pathway to achievement of academic 和 career goals. 新的见解, 新天赋, 和 new adversities almost always advance knowledge, so this season is indeed promising for nontraditional students, 和 likely beneficial in some innovative ways for all students.

As this season enhances virtual 学习, we must also remember how much the traditional 教室 is missed by those students who must go without it. And as Calvin ramps up new online academic programs, we must remember to apply the lessons we take for granted in our physical life together.

To read the article “In Praise of Classrooms” by Peter Boumgarden 和 Abram Van Engen, visit 热切地.lareviewofbooks.org.