Monday, August 17, 2009

In praise of online classes

Jonathan Kaplan (President, Walden University) in Inside Higher Ed: The Medium Is Not The Message:

We know that online learning requires devout attention on the part of both the professor and the student -- and a collaboration between the two -- in a different way from that of a face-to-face classroom. These critical aspects of online education are worth particular mention:

  • Greater student engagement: In an online classroom, there is no back row and nowhere for students to hide. Every student participates in class.

  • Increased faculty attention: In most online classes, the faculty’s role is focused on mentoring students and fostering discussion. Interestingly, many faculty members choose to teach online because they want more student interaction.

  • Constant access: The Internet is open 24/7, so students can share ideas and “sit in class” whenever they have time or when an idea strikes -- whether it be the dead of night or during lunch. Online learning occurs on the student’s time, making it more accessible, convenient, and attainable.

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Rob Weir has some advice on online teaching: Take a Walk on the Wired Side. He also has a more balanced and practical take on online courses by discussing the positives as well as the negatives; more importantly, he has some great links at the end.

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See also:

  1. What's Wrong With Online Courses?

  2. Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance: Will The Internet Replace Universities?