We Are Asked to Teach Online

We are asked to teach online because we need money and the University of Phoenix has a corner on that market here. I might be better at teaching online than some people just because of my blogging and web design experience, and my interests in media. However, there are serious reasons not to volunteer.

Some reasons why people resist teaching on line:
+ prior bad experience with e-books, commercial course websites and workbooks, and CMS software that doesn’t work well and is tedious;
+ because the most fun and creative part of teaching is the face to face part — without which all one has left is the tedious parts (grading, e-mail, updating clunky websites, dealing with other technology driven problems that limit one rather than expand possibilities);
+ because we are given static, bureaucratic formats for online courses, so these are far more antiquated in terms of format, content, and skills development than what can be done in person;
+ because whereas faculty members create their own in person courses, it is not clear whether we will even be considered “stakeholders” in the determination of content for online courses.

Why online courses might be useful for me and mine:
+ for the same reasons as we have had distance learning by video. This had problems, including the fact that there was an actual and also a remote classroom. But an online course, if the teaching modules and software were good, and if it were not 100% online for all students but could be hybrid in some way, with the possibility of some face to face meetings and events, could serve the purposes of the older distance learning program in a more functional and interesting way.

How I think this whole initiative could be made attractive:
+ allow for a lot of control and creativity by the actual professor, in terms of decisions about content and delivery;
+ make sure content created could also be used in face to face courses, so that effort is not toward a one-off thing or toward the creation of something that will pass out of one’s control;
+ let faculty members in on the decisions about technology.

What I think is wrong with the hopes expressed above:
+ the “live music” aspect of face to face teaching — it cannot be replicated.
+ the fact that students would have to be seriously trained to take online discussion seriously. I strongly discussion skills are best learned in person first.

Everyone I know who has taught on line is dissatisfied with it. Everyone I know who has taken online courses says they had their reasons for being glad the option was available, but had they been in a position to commute or move they would have preferred an actual class. What would you add to any of this?


2 thoughts on “We Are Asked to Teach Online

  1. What I think about is how much extra work online courses are for the instructor. This is what I have seen, anyway.

  2. Yes and — again, as you suggest, it’s important to remember that it is that simple!

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