There is a growing availability of online courses. Talk with others here about your experiences and trade insights with Educational Leaders who develop and deliver these courses.
Online classes will have a place over the next years, so it makes sense for students and educators to dialog and figure out how to make them a high-quality option.
Online courses offer the flexibility needed for many adults to be successful in improving their skill base. The flexibility allows those who work full time to continue on their educational track. However, we are seeing increased development of courses for all ages and grades. An earlier post in Thinkfinity, (see http://www.thinkfinity.org/message/53330#53330), refers to the high school requirement for online coursework that several states have incorporated into their curriculum maps.
A variety of virtual schools have cropped up over the past couple of years. Students may not be doing this work at home however, and that is a concern for school campuses. A school may be forced into offering class location, equipment and tech support to an ‘e-school’ student. This can cause problems. Younger students may or may not be successful in a virtual environment. I’m aware of students who may be in the same class with one or two students doing the work and others ‘sharing’. Who is there to provide supervision and offer ‘just in time’ assistance to the learner?
I’ve also run into people that need the option of face-to-face interaction. Due to funding and other concerns, educator professional development is moving towards webinars and other online venues. Some are not participating and that is causing a lack of awareness and knowledge of many of the new classroom strategies that are being introduced.
I believe the flipped classroom model would be the best for young students. Have lessons available online and provide class time for project based learning with teacher interaction. That seems like a win-win situation.
Just as there are effective and ineffective face-to-face teachers and classes, the same is true for online classes. I have taken a variety of online classes and facilitated some too. I found a big difference for both the teacher and the student. Making a class online rather than face-to-face involves much more than just taking what has been done in the face-to-face environment and attempting to duplicate it exactly in a digital format.
Online classes can't be just read this and then answer these questions .... or watch this video and then answer these questions. The questions need to be designed in a way to engage the learner and the answers need to be more representative of the learner's thinking rather than just a here is the same information that was just shared.
I have found online courses to be beneficial in that the info is available and the class can be accessed/completed by learners when it works best for the individual.
I like online courses for some things ...
I also feel that there are other things that can be addressed better in a face-to-face format ...
A nice mix of both using a blended approach may help to better meet the needs of learners and facilitators ...
I have taught online college level courses for the past 6 years. When I think about how I really feel about online learning, two things come to mind. The first is they are a blessing because they open up opportunity to people all over the world to pursue their degree when it is convenient for them. I have students that live all over and I would say most of my students have kids and work full time jobs while earning their degree. Without the online courses, many of my students wouldn’t have earned their degree or earned it within a couple of years. The second theme that comes to mind is that online courses take a lot of your time and can be more demanding…they aren’t easy! For example, in a face to face setting, an instructor can explain an assignment and answer student question in about 10 minutes. On the other hand, in an online setting, it can take the instructor hours of back and forth communication to explain the assignment and address questions and concerns. It can take students days of reading through all the course materials and asking the instructor questions to be confident in starting and completing the assignment. Discussion boards require deep thought and time to compose. I think online courses are a necessity for our busy students and I know that students who pass an online course, at least the ones I have taught and taken, have worked hard and truly earned their credit.