by Elayne Clift
the Chronicle of Higher education, May 29, 2009 v55 i38 pNA
The beauty of this short essay that feels a lot like a rampage against online learning from the eyes of an instructor who had a very frustrating experience with the process is its simplicity, its straightforwardness and the ability to bring about five key messages that all online learning providers must pay attention to. The essay connects with the reader in the fact that it brings to the table ideas and concepts that cannot be forgotten when planning, delivering and evaluating an online course. Namely:
- Understanding the mechanisms and shortcomings as well as potentials of the VIRTUAL REALITY. Virtual communication is not F2F communication. Anonymity which may attract some learners, brings frustration to others, and raises the bar for instructors and their ability to connect with students.
- Trade offs for IMMEDIACY - the ability to probe, manouver and direct conevrsations and refelctions, clarify, coment and being in the moment change entirely when the envornment is digital. Without the clear, defined and traditional paramters of the F2F classroom settings.
- QUALITY OF EDUCATION - this drastically changes as what we are used to in a classroom is no longer applicable. The curriculum we count upon to guide our pedagogical decisions must support the new platforms of delivery to raise the instruction to similar or higher standards. This takes time, professional commitment and ongoing reliable support. Any step that does not account for the changes required to maintain the bar at its highest levels will inevitably fall short of expectations.
- Time commitment almost never equals adequate REMUNERATION. Instructors must be cautioned about the appearance of simplicity and perception of freedom one might inherit while teaching online. Preparation, delivery and monitoring time triples at a minimum in online learning environments. Institutions have not caught up quite yet with a comparable remuneration system to the actual hands on work using online platforms.
- LOSS OF CONTROL, UN-SATISFACTION AND SENSE OF ISOLATION are perceptions that can become the only reality of first time or inexperienced instructors, as well as teachers who are detached from the support of peers and the online community.