QotD: Online Ed Edition

A term that gets tossed around a fair amount here in Mondoville is “blended courses”, a term that means a hybrid of in-person and online instruction. There are a few classes around here that operate this way, and at least one professor who seems to have moved most of his classes to a largely online format. It seems to work for the prof, and perhaps for that professor’s students as well. Still, while I’m no Luddite (having been online in one form or another since the early 80s), I think that one of the things that sets an educational experience like Mondoville’s apart from the experience in a more “blended” environment is the face-to-face contact. Automated distance-ed stuff has its uses, but I have to think there’s something missing. There’s a difference, I think, between a teacher and a “course delivery system.”

And that brings us to today’s QotD, from the indispensable Margaret Soltan at University Diaries:

In the classroom, you are looking at me, and I am looking at you. I am looking at you as a young, smart, promising human being wanting to clarify aspects of human life. This sight moves me; and I want not only to talk to you about human complexities but to exhibit to you what one older person (me) who has had a reasonably disciplined exposure to some of those complexities looks like, sounds like, acts like. I want to […l]isten with great care to what you say and how you say it; and then analyze what you have said in a way that maybe moves you forward in your relationship to it. Maybe makes you less emotional, more analytically neutral; maybe makes you aware that other people before you have formulated things in a way similar to yours, but somewhat more nuanced, etc., etc. That is teaching.

I’m not so sure that works as well online. Maybe it does for my colleague — but it’s hard for me to say; I don’t see that prof on campus too much.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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3 Responses to QotD: Online Ed Edition

  1. Josh W says:

    I was in an online class for the first time last semester. We were the “beta testers” of the class, so to speak; and in that respect it went about as well as we had a right to expect. But yeah, it did feel a little weird only being able to communicate with the prof. and classmates via email/message boards. And I say this as a guy who took years to work up the nerve to actually start talking in class.

  2. Bill says:

    As with any formats, there are pros and cons. On-line classes can have the ability to connect a group from widely disparate settings whether culture, surroundings, reasons for taking that class or even age, which tends to be a plus. But the ability to gather the nuanced and immediate response among that group is nullified. Math and physics are better suited than say an English class heavily involved in dissecting period pieces or an art appreciation class.

  3. Jeff S. says:

    During my stint “designing” courses for the online program of a big state school, I met many adjuncts and administrators who parroted the institution’s talking points. Then, over lunch, they’d mention that they were picking up this extra work so they could pay their kids’ tuition at Penn, NYU, etc. Not once did I meet anyone who considered sending their own children to the sort of dumbed-down but more affordable online program they themselves were helping to create. I found that telling.

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