Should I take that class online or face-to-face?

Posted on May 9, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A new study by the CCRC give us some insight into what courses students like to take online vs. on campus. According to the study, if students think the course will be interesting, difficult, or important, they will choose f2f. 

So, what constitutes “easy” courses that students to want to take online? According to the study, which interviewed 46 students at 2 Virginia community colleges, easy = courses students think they can teach themselves from the textbook. 

My take-away: students don’t perceive that the interaction (student-faculty, student-student, student-content interaction) in an online class is similar to the interaction in a face-to-face class. This points out to me the wide variety of quality in online courses. A high quality online course can have student interaction that far exceeds that of a f2f class (you can’t sit quietly in the back of the classroom in an online class). But many online classes may not meet that standard.

Unfortunately, I think that when online education was newer and we all knew less about pedagogy and had fewer tools for engagement at our disposal, online courses may have been more like correspondence courses (with the addition of discussion forums). That model may have soured many students (and many faculty) on online courses. But today’s online courses have tremendous potential for engaging activities, multimedia, and the easy incorporation of universal design principles. It is up to faculty and the instructional designers and technologists who work with them to make use of these approaches and tools so that tomorrow’s students will not see online = teach yourself and f2f = the teacher teaches you (equations in which both answers are wrong). In any mode, the emphasis needs to be on learning, not teaching. I do agree with the students in the study who perceived the importance of their access to and connection with a faculty member who cares about their learning. I just think that it is equally possible in online and f2f courses.  

 

he researchers conducted one-on-one interviews with students and found the majority “felt they did not learn the course material as well when they took it online,” according to the study. “For most students, this deficit was due to reduced teacher explanation and interaction.”

Yes, small sample size,

 

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