Monday, November 26, 2012

Communications and Cyberspace: Chapter 13

I was originally going to comment on Chapter 13 and 19 in the same post. After writing my thoughts on Chapter 13, I realized it would end up pretty long.  I decided to do two separate posts. Here is the first post:

Chapter 13: Online Education Unbound discusses how much the author loves online courses.  I couldn't disagree more.  I do agree that the idea of an online class sounds wonderful.  For both the students and the professor, you go on and participate when you have time and from anywhere. The theory is that it should open up communication and that students should be able to learn from each other. I have taken a variety of different courses online and have not enjoyed a single one.  I have run into a few different issues:

  •     In two classes taken in two different subjects (two different colleges even) I had the professor disappear due to medical problems.  No one told the students, we just didn't have any communication from the professor anymore.  Both times I had to reach out to the department, and they had to track down the professor.  Now, I understand that they weren't well, but had this been a traditional class we would not have been left in the dark.  In one of the classes the professor never returned. We were active for about half the semester, never did a final, and we were all just given A’s.  I did not learn anything in either of those courses and was incredibly disappointed.

  •        I once had a professor post at the start of the term that some of the material we would learn would be outdated, but there was nothing she could do about it as it was a “canned class” and she was not allowed to change the information.  I dropped that course thinking, “don’t waste my time, or yours”.

  •     I find that no one really participates. Many people wait till the very last second to post, leaving you with nothing to comment on (I have been guilty of this too).  Some people don’t post anything of significance, so once again there is nothing to comment on. Also, many questions posed by professors are not conducive to discussion. How can we discuss when there is clearly only one answer to the question and we all post the same thing?

In conclusion, I don’t think online courses themselves are failing.  I think the issue is that the courses haven’t been properly designed to be taught online.  Also, I don’t think many of the professors understand how to effectively teach an online course.  You can’t just take a course you taught in person for years and stick it on the web. I believe online teaching is a skill and not all professors have it or are willing to develop it. I also feel online courses, even ones well-designed and taught, are the right fit for every student. I prefer seeing my professor face-to-face, and building that relationship.  Someday I would like to take an online course and not be disappointed. I haven't taken an online course as part of the Media & Professional Communication program, so my wish could still come true!

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