In his post It’s never been as easy to be an intellectual Seth Godin asks the following questions and then suggests that we badly need these kinds of people who are willing to do this work:

  • Do you click through to see the underlying data?
  • Are you aware of both the status quo and the argument against it?
  • Have you done the reading?
  • Are you comfortable asking, “why?”
  • Do you know how it works?
  • When someone knows more about something than you do, are you willing to catch up?
  • If the data makes it clear that you’ve taken the wrong position, are you eager to change your mind?
  • Are you interested in having a spirited conversation about the way things are, the way they were, they way they might become?
  • Can you set aside your worldview, at least for a few minutes, to consider an alternative way to look at the situation?

When I first read this post my ego was stroked because I have a tendency to see myself as an intellectual. There is a part of me that likes to engage things on a purely intellectual or rational level and, until recently, I had tried to limit the emotional side of perspectives because I foolishly believed that emotions or the heart just got in the way. Personal experience and too many life lessons have taught me that the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been regardless of how rational the argument. Life has also taught me that we are complex beings and rather then try and ignore our hearts we really need to engage them along with our intellects if we really want to learn.

I think Godin is on the right track with his post, but I think he is missing the bigger picture. I suggest that we factor in the heart, or the affective domain, as Bloom recommends, then we can argue that it’s never been as easy to be a learner. The heart must also be engaged if we are to truly make meaningful connections and learn.


Bloom, B. S. (1974). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1-2. Longmans: McKay.

Godin, S. (2015, November 22). Did you do the reading? Retrieved from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/did-you-do-the-reading.html

Godin, S. (2016, July 8). It’s never been as easy to be an intellectual. Retrieved from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/07/its-never-been-as-easy-to-be-an-intellectual.html

Harapnuik, D. K. (2015, January 9). The head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=5461


Peers more credible than leaders
Source: Slide 21 Edleman Trust Barometer

Every Voice Matters
Source: Slide 46 Edleman Trust Barometer

It looks like when we view online information we trust our friends, family or people like ourselves as much or more than we are willing to trust an academic expert or anyone else. As an academic expert I am not concerned with this data, but am rather excited to have data to support what I have been watching develop over the past twenty years in the online classes that I have been facilitating. I have observed that my students are very quick to trust each other’s input and perspectives as much or even more than my own. Students still do view my voice as the final voice of authority because I am the one who determines their grade–but do they trust me as much as they trust their peers? I wonder…?

This confirms the importance of collaboration in online courses. Students do trust each other enough to really learn from each other. Yes, I am making a generalization from the Eldemen data that looks at the trust level of authors on social networking, content sharing and online-only information sources but this does describe a significant component of the online learning environment that I have created for my students. Online educators have been measuring the importance of online collaboration for student achievement for many years and there is a fair amount of data to support the fact that well structured online collaboration helps students to achieve their course learning outcomes as well as or better then in traditional face2face settings (Hiltz, Coppola, Rotter, Turoff, & Benbunan-Fich, 2000; Su, Bonk, Magjuka, Liu, & Lee, 2005).

The evidence is clear; if you want to learn more effectively online you need to collaborate with your classmates. The evidence also suggest that most people are willing to trust their classmates as much or more than the professor so online students should take advantage of this fact and learn from and with their peers.


Edleman Trust Barometer. (2016). [Slideshare]. Retrieved July 14, 2016 from

Hiltz, S. R., Coppola, N., Rotter, N., Turoff, M., & Benbunan-Fich, R. (2000). Measuring the importance of collaborative learning for the effectiveness of ALN: A multi-measure, multi-method approach. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 4(2), 103-125.

Su, B., Bonk, C. J., Magjuka, R. J., Liu, X., & Lee, S. H. (2005). The importance of interaction in web-based education: A program-level case study of online MBA courses. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 4(1), 1-19.