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The Contender
Con (against)
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Asimov's Short Story: The Fun They Had

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/28/2012 Category: Technology
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,410 times Debate No: 20633
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




Asimov's short story accurately represents the feelings that students express about online learning today. Students feel disconnected from the facilitators and find that they are interacting more with a computer than an actual person. Online learning today is non-personal and has a computer-generated feel.


I will start with a tedious tautology, the story is what it is. An outdated overused argumentation about the apparent lack of personal connection that arises by using the most incredible information sharing technology available to us, which in turn means that this loss of personal connection is somehow hindering our education or at least our characters in a negative way.

"Online learning today is non-personal and has a computer-generated feel."
Computer-generated, yes, mostly because 'online learning' usually happens on a computer.

"Non-personal", now that is dependent on where you are getting your online education. In fact if you take an online education such as the Khan Academy, you have the exact opposite effect. I can tell you from personally experience that some of the courses on there are much more personal/adjusted to what I want to see and learn about right now. If I do not understand one topic, a simple pause and further research leads to me to understand that maybe crucial little detail. Whereas in a classroom this would be impossible since with 30 kids, there would an interruption non-stop and we would all get nowhere.

"Students feel disconnected from the facilitators and find that they are interacting more with a computer than an actual person." That would be relative to how much you are learning. Remember just because you are learning something online that does not mean you are excluded from discussing this material with anyone.

The bleak and boring feel of school in the short story are simple errors of incorporating the same mistakes with a different system. Once people actually get to chose what they want to learn and stay on a topic until they fully understand it, this disregard of actual information or anti-intellectualism will not so easily arise, this would reflect in end results. Again, I can give a personal confirmation of this and a study that has been done on online education:

Now pertaining your's and the story's objection that this sort of online studying completely shuts out a necessary personal connection between people:
(Again Khan Academy) ( More information on how this has been implemented already and the results are found on the site and in the talks he gives, excuse the "indirectness" of this source)
What this institute has done is implemented the activity of online learning in a very effective way. Leaving the learning for actual computers (computer-generated problems, video lectures, etc.) but adding the element of discussion.

Previously in schools, the learning part had to be done entirely during school hours, a complete waste of time and usually results in a small percentage of the course actually understanding what has been talked about without rereading the material.

But if you can relocate the traditional at-school-learning to online-learning, you have recreated a much more efficient environment of discussion. This is the crucial Asimov and you misunderstand. Online-learning gives way to actual human interaction based on discussing material in a thought through manner, while traditional means of getting information across actually prevented this. Instead of spending 5-8 hours at school and only picking up very little information you can do this online at home in much less time. Opening up your free time for quarrels with a multitude of persons ranging from teachers to your peers.

Therefore online-learning has the exact opposite you and Asimov purport it to have.
Debate Round No. 1


katie318 forfeited this round.


Opponent sadly has not been online for the time that was given to post an argument.
Debate Round No. 2
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by MasturDbtor 6 years ago
I suppose you could say that actually I agree with the resolution. It does feel disconnecting, but the disconnection feels liberating, not hindering. I learn better when it feels impersonal, when I don't feel the stress of trying to impress someone I care about or how they might feel or think about me, and don't have to worry about juggling trying to have an academic discussion with 10 people at once.
Posted by MasturDbtor 6 years ago
Is this supposed to be a debate about whether students feel that way about online learning?
Personally, I find online learning easier. People are pesky things. You have to worry about them trying to manipulate you with emotional appeals, doing stupid things like stumping you with rhetorical questions and acting like doing that makes them more right about their point, etc. Much easier to deal with people over the internet.
Human connection" pfft...Information-gathering is too serious to enable real human connection. It's better to form connections with people just having fun and goofing off and keep the learning process in an environment solely focused on learning.
Posted by mongeese 6 years ago
What, exactly, is the resolution?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's arguments--which discuss more of the benefits of online schooling--were stronger. Pro's resolution and argument were at jarring ends; Pro seemed to focus on the benefits of public teaching, while her resolution is focused on "The Fun they had". Nevertheless, Con responded well, dispelling the notion that online schooling was distant by offering criticisms of public education (lack of info learned, inability to directly converse with teachers, and so forth).