Online Courses Blow in the Wind

I am joining this connected classroom effort, because I love connection, and there really can’t be enough of it when it comes to learning online.

Although I myself enjoy being an online learner, I believe I am in the minority. In my work as a teacher and online support person I get a lot of student contact, and I like to spring an ad hoc survey on them: “how do you like online learning?” The tongues stick out mocking nausea, heads shake, the thumbs head south.sand sculpture of ET the extra terrestrial using pay phone My unscientific research nets a good 90% disapproval rate from both the old and the young who I get to talk with at our community college. It’s a horribly general yet telling question that puts a wet finger in the wind of online coursework; people, the breeze is a bit foul.

The reasons are multifarious but a disconnection from classmates and most of all the teacher stick out sorely. Technical problems follow closely behind that and then the other tropes trample up: boredom, confusion, miscommunication and the lot.

I am a fierce believer that this doesn’t have to be the case. I’ve seen it done well. As long as there’s electricity, eLearning is here to stay; it has the power to change the world for the better, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.

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2 Comments

September 23, 2014 · 5:37 pm

2 responses to “Online Courses Blow in the Wind

  1. Thanks so much for this, Thatcher – for the wonderful ET (!!!), and also for the sentiment. I agree with you 1000%. I’ve been teaching online for over 10 years, and I love it. The new tools and opportunities for creating presence and connections makes it better and better every year. But sadly, I know plenty of people who have a very negative attitude towards online education. With my colleagues, it is usually a prejudice not based on actual experience, but I know plenty of my students may have encountered some poor quality online courses already (just as, ahem, they have also encounter plenty of poor quality classroom-based classes too!). Anyway, for me, seeking to maximize connectedness of all kinds, online is the place to be, and I’m glad to be connecting up with others here in #ccourses who feel the same!
    Thanks again… and now I will get back to my students after having taken my social media tea break for the afternoon! 🙂

    • Laura – thanks for the thoughtful comment. I had another discussion about this today with an online instructor. We agreed that a student’s being jaded by prior experience with online learning is a big factor in the attitude. So many are getting into it at the high school level where they are often canned (aka worst) classes, as well as being challenging for many students at that age because of self-discipline and reading comprehension skills.

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