An improved perspective on online learning.
Thanks to x1brett at flickr.com. A large lecture hall can be common at many institutions. These rooms enable students to disengage in the classroom.

In a recent conversation with a colleague about why online instruction has value, we hit upon one prominent reason that online learning has been received negatively:  perspective.  Many of us, myself included, have sometimes held imperfect perspectives on instruction, in general. For me, the imperfect perspective (that I regularly possess) is that of the instructor.

In like manner, it would be incorrect to think only of the student as the “right” perspective.  A balance is most important and achievable.

An Improved Perspective

Let’s convey what an improved perspective of online courses could be if an online course was well-built.

  1. When instructors properly construct an online course, they will generate/manage student engagement.  Admittedly, student learning is a different thing altogether but with acceptable standards on engagement built into a course, students will be in a prime position to learn.  The same goals of widespread knowledge can be obtained through a variety of reasonable and stable tools.
  2. Academic dishonesty might be reduced.  Several studies suggest that cheating may be lower in online courses.  Speculation suggests that causes for such statistics would be a lack of personal connection.  One such article is, in particular, based heavily in statistics and acknowledges (admirably) its own weaknesses.  So, if instructors choose to build a course that navigates itself from
  3. Students may actually receive more focused interaction than in a traditional class. A variety of technologies, including VoiceThread, SnapChat, YouTube, and  Periscope are helping us to overcome the barriers associated with digital education.  They’re not perfect but with good planning and production, student experiences might be exceptionally positive.  This is why blended courses are receiving a great deal of attention:  excellent tools with many of the personal touches.

The moral of the story:  an online course can be crafted to actively engage students and to help a student recognize the need for authenticity while also helping them to learn authentically.

 

Conclusion

As professors, it is easy for us to presume that we know the best delivery techniques for our courses.  We’re the experts.  But the problem is that we may not have considered the strengths and weaknesses of each and every argument–especially including those that align with our own.

When it comes time to online learning, there are disciplines/courses for which online instruction is unsuitable.  However, before dismissing the option, seek some people in your field who have taught their content online.  There are some surprisingly good arguments for why we should teach an online course.

Improved Perspective on Online Instruction
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