Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday Forum #1

Today's Friday Forum will be about online classes. Just so I make myself clear, I've never actually taken an online class- the closest I came was some lame ed. class that was more of a correspondance course and I ended up not finishing it because there was such an extreme amount of busy work and I had just had my second baby and was not really up for it. (the class, not the baby.) I did have a field experience student who was supposedly getting a master's in education (or was it teaching? and what exactly is the difference?) and her classes were all online.
Here's where I am with the online class: as a student, I would have loved it- do the work whenever it fit into the day, wear my jammies and not have to GO to class. No more yadyada. As a teacher, I think it would also be easier in some ways. Post assignments, students send them back electronically, or not. "Teach" class in my jammies, post stuff whenever it's convenient.
As a semi-responsible PERSON, however, I think it's important to GO to a college class. The whole experience- quirky profs, fascinating, irritating, inspiring profs; annoying non-traditional students, slacker types, people going through similar experiences that you are. I don't think that all classes can or should be offered as online courses. In my ed. classes, which, I'm sorry to say, weren't that challenging, I learned from the annecdotes the profs and other students contributed way more than textbook material. Plus, if you're not actually, physically there, isn't there opportunity for cheating galore?
What do you guys think of online classes? Anyone taken one? Taking one? Teaching one?



Blogger Pissed Off said...

My niece took an online college algebra class. I started off helping her and ended up taking it for her. Needless to say, I don't approve of on line classes.

11/02/2007 6:02 PM  
Blogger HappyChyck said...

When my sweetie went back to school at ITT, he had to take a few courses on-line. The worst course were math courses because he needed someone doing direct instruction. It wasn't just him either. Enough students complained and so many of them did so poorly that the college stopped offering it as an online class.

The other classes were writing classes, and they worked okay because the instructor assigned readings, and then the students discussed them on the board. The other assignments were, of course, writing assignments, and those he submitted electronically to the instructor, and she gave him feedback. He was also assigned to participate in peer evaluation with an assigned group, but his group mates always waited until the last minute or never submitted anything. Thankfully, the instructor didn't penalize my sweetie for that.

I took two online classes through PBS Teacherline last year. They were professional development course I was able to get for free from some district grant--with graduate credits, too. You know how PD courses can be...and uhm...PBS? Both classes were more time-consuming than I thought they would be. I had to post about 8 times a week to the board about in response to others, keep a reflection journal, and submit 1-2 assignments each week. The lessons were mostly tutorials,websites and videos. Each class also had a final project. One of the classes was about creating web quests, and it was a just not enough work for a 2 credit class, so it seemed like a lot of busy work. The other class was about strategies in researching online, and it was a PERFECT kind of class to take online. The instructor was strict about the grading rubrics, but he also gave us a lot of feedback on our work.

It was awesome being able to attend class when it was convenient to me. It was irritating sometimes having to post to a board when I had nothing to say--think of when you visit a blog and you read a post that you find somewhat interesting, but you just have nothing to say in response. It's kind of like that. I think online classes work well for discussion or project type classes. They probably also work well with learners who don't mind working alone or who feel comfortable reading to learn. And actually, if you are shy, I'd say you'd be better off attending a large class where you can blend in. In the online classes I've seen, you have to participate in the discussion, or it really hurts your grade. (I do realize that not all online classes are structured that way.)

Oh, and sorry for making my own post here...

11/02/2007 7:00 PM  
Blogger Professor J said...

I am teaching an online course. In some ways I find it easier, but since every contact with the students is in writing, one has to be careful about how she presents herself. My face-to-face students know I basically care about them; my online students have no built in reserve of positive regard.

11/02/2007 9:01 PM  
Blogger ms-teacher said...

I really do think it depends upon how motivated the student is on whether or not an online course works. In addition it the course should be amenable to an online course situation.

I had to take one online course while doing my undergraduate degree. It was an ancient history class and the way that the professor had it set up was perfect for an online course.

11/03/2007 11:42 AM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

I think in a lot of ways it depends on the content area. I don't think my class would have made a good translation to an online environment. Even though students sometimes drove me nuts, we had a lot of excellent discussions that would never have happened otherwise - even if I used the discussion board feature!

11/04/2007 9:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Since my son was born (last week)--or actually a few weeks before--I've been re-thinking online classes. I thought I might be able to handle teaching one of those better than "the real thing." It seems like it would cut down on the classroom drama, eliminating classroom management issues and allowing me to focus on individual students' needs more precisely.

As for taking one, I, like you, remain skeptical. I like the experience of the classroom (as a student much better) and feel like a lot of that community and bonding are lost online.

11/05/2007 4:32 AM  
Blogger Adeline said...

i agree that it depends on what is being taught whether the class works. i took the worlds most sorry excuse of technology for education class online where basically she assigned work like "make a website" and never gave a stitch of inkling of how to actually do it. t'was a joke.

i did take a civil rights in education class and was glad i didn't have to actually attend that snoozer with the radical liberal teacher that taught it. truly after awhile the feeling is that ones job as a student is to just parrot back what the teacher wants you to think and you get your A. then go on your merry way, 20,000 dollars poorer but with a piece of paper that says you can teach. whatever.

perhaps i am bitter.

11/05/2007 10:09 PM  

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