Saturday, November 12, 2011

Teaching online

So I'm almost halfway through my online World Lit course and . . . it's just not the same. I'm going to give it chance. I am already scheduled to teach one more online course in the spring. My initial reaction is that teaching online limits the essential professor/student interaction, and student/student interaction that is so much an integral part of teaching and learning. There are ways to engage the students, and I need to learn how to better do that online.

Here's how it works. Students log in, preferably daily, and read the lecture, watch the power point presentations, read the text, and then do the learning activities. Learning activities consist of answering 2 discussion questions for each unit. After they answer the question, they also need to respond to two other students' postings. There is some interaction there. I'd like to see more. Then they take a quiz and write either an essay or a shorter response.

What do I miss? What I miss most is the instantaneous student response. Body language is so important -- I had no idea until I started teaching this class. Just by looking out at my class I can tell who is interested, who is bored, who is tired, who is preoccupied -- by the way they sit, slouch, sit forward expectantly, smile, yawn. I miss all of it teaching this online class.


  1. Great post Sis. And love the graphic of the redhead.

  2. hah - that's why I like online classes. I'm not ALWAYS in the mood to have an interactive discussion, but my mood and body language don't necessarily reflect my interest in the course content. Many students (usually juniors or seniors) talk amongst themselves about how they have to hype themselves up for class - so basically, the ones who are "engaged" are often putting on a performance. Online classes take away the facades and require REAL input - and you can tell if students are distracted, in a hurry, passionate about the content, etc. based on their typed input. It doesn't entirely resolve the problem of masking authenticity but I think students are still "readable". :)

  3. Hi Kate. I suggest you may be able to discover some solutions through the use of social media platforms. Currently Facebook has added, for example, some applications that address relational connections. Kinda biz to biz on a personal plan. There are also some other possibilites you may use from the Cyber World. Perhaps Bennie can interpret for you.

  4. Hmmm. Great point Brenda. I'll have to pay more attention to 'reading' my students through their responses, and realize I'm doing a service to those who might actually prefer online classes. I really appreciate your perspective.

    Thanks Carlos. As you know, I'm not on Facebook, so I'm almost illiterate when it comes to social media, but I think I will have to cautiously enter the social media stream.

  5. Hi Katie- I'm enjoying reading your blog! I agree with Brenda- while teaching online has the limitations you described, I find that there is an art discerning what to key in on when reading their responses, and also in getting a good discussion going between students. My classes are directed toward working adults as well, and I know they appreciate being able to work more at their own pace and on their own terms. So, pros and cons with both forms, definitely.