Some Thoughts about Online Courses

In my last blog post I collected some varying opinions about online courses.  I was inspired to do so by two recent conversations.  I was at a meeting when the subject of how online courses would play at Mercy came up.  One participant immediately interjected that he “strongly favored” face-to-face. 

e-learning home page at SCAD

Two days before, I was seated at a banquet when I mentioned that I was currently teaching an online course for graduate students.  The gentleman sitting next to me enthusiastically responded and then described how he had been responsible for the technical design for the e-learning program at the Savannah School of Art and Design which has been recently recognized for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching by the Sloan Consortium.

My course is operated through the Blackboard and is certainly not going to win any awards for technical brilliance.  That said, I do believe that project oriented courses like mine and those at Savannah certainly do lend themselves to asymmetrical learning experiences for students.  This is especially true if students like mine work or have to travel quite some distance to campus.  Furthermore, I am not sure I would teach the course this term if I were required to travel periodically at scheduled time to the Madonna campus.

Assignment creation page for my online course

Perhaps my students would not consider this a great loss.  However it can certainly be argued that it would be a great gain for hundreds or even thousands of students to have access to the very best teachers.  Not everyone can afford to attend Georgia Tech or Savannah, but one can earn degrees through online courses at those top programs.

Online or face-to-face does not have to be an either-or proposition.  And for very legitimate reasons many secondary and higher ed students are blending online coursework into their programs trying to create the best of all worlds.

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