Online Teaching Challenges Teachers to Learn New System

Online teaching has been popularized by many commercial schools. Some of the for profit schools that use online teaching are: University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, Baker College, Argosy University (Educational Management System), Devry University, and ITT Technical University. But how does instruction in these school differ from traditional academic fare?

First, being on line means the course is conducted over the internet. You are teaching in cyberspace, a significant departure from classes that are conducted in real space and real time. Teaching in a real space means location in the physical world: There is a campus you drive to; there is a building that you go to; there is a classroom when lectures or interactive processes take place. As an instructor, you have direct contact with the students, but you are bound by space and time. In distance education or online education, you follow an asynchronous plan. In traditional education, as the instructor, you must be at a certain location at a certain time. In online education, you may tune into your course at 3:00 in the morning. You may teach in your pajamas. You may travel to a beachfront resort and teach your class while basking in the sun or between swims. All you need is a laptop.

What Constitutes Being in the Classroom for Online Teaching in Contrast to Traditional Presence?

In traditional classrooms you have to physically be there and you have to make sure you verify the presence of your students; you have to take roll. In an online classroom, you do not have to take roll. The student's presence or non-presence is automatically electronically registered when the student checks into the cyber class. In most systems, the instructor's presence is recorded also, and part of your effectiveness as an instructor is your generating responses to the student's work. You are expected to provide feedback. Usually, if you miss class for two consecutive times you are said to be in the RED zone. You have to comment on your student's work and your comment implies your presence. Again, this is all handled electronically.

In a traditional class, the instructor can walk around the room and gain proximity to the students by physical placement. There is no physical space to walk in for an online class. Students are made to understand that they must read this board every day and if they have questions, to contact the instructor. The online class uses email and, for announcements, there is an announcement board. The student can ask questions by clicking on Ask the Professor or Problems and Solutions. There is also a lounge for the students and they may informally gather here and have virtual coffee. In severe cases, you can chat in real time or make a telephone call. The student can interchange work and the student is constantly getting feedback from the class and the instructor. Assignments are due every week and the instructor may comment directly on the submission and return it to the student.

Late paper policy: Submit papers on Time or Accept a Lower Grade for Late Papers.

In an online class, the system is very strict. Papers all have a due date. If they are late then the student loses points proportional to the days late. In a traditional class, it is easier to fudge in submission. Most professors are familiar with the "slip it under the door" policy. In an online class there is no door to slip it under.

Sometimes in an online class, you may wish to set up group work. This works very well..the online class is designed for interaction. The entire class can see the contributions of other students so each class member contributes to the knowledge and skills of other students. Of course, if you want to communicate privately and if the student wants privacy, then it is also available as I have indicated.

Grading: Moving Toward Objectivity in Online Classes.

When it comes to grading, it is easy in some courses to do a lot of guessing about grades or you may use the pit of my stomach feeling to grade. Or, as the old joke goes, you weigh the papers. Online classes, however, offer a means of grading that is based on the point system. There are usually objective tests throughout and in grading essays, the rubric lays out what must be present in each essay and the student either gets credit or not. The grades are then posted for the students to read their own grades, but the knowledge of what others have made is not visible to them. The GRADE chart gives a breakdown of quiz grades and each individual essay grade and it is automatically assigned points for each correct answer and an average is computed. The instructor has access to the student's

telephone number or email address in case they wish to contact the student for a more detailed analysis. The grades are cumulative, so the student can check his or her class performance and averages every day. In a traditional system, I dare to say, there is less specificity and less feedback for the student. Once students get used to the Grade Board, they tend to prefer it over the traditional approach.

Another feature of difference between traditional and online teaching is the curriculum. The entire curriculum is indicated on the left side of the monitor. No need for handouts or for that matter, a syllabus. The directions for each week are built in. The curriculum is already planned and the instructor acts more as a facilitator rather than as an instructor in the usual sense. All a student need do is read through the notes and directions on the left side of the monitor and they will have the layout of the course. Then, students must read the Policies of the Instructor. These policies are spelled out in the Announcement section. And here is where the instructor has some leeway. She will state her stand on plagiarism and late papers. She will tell the student how to get tutoring if need be. And she will give her office hours.

All in all, this requires a bit a learning curve to shift from the traditional classroom to an online setup. But millions of instructors have done so. Try it.

The best approach for a prospective online adjunct instructor to take when seeking online adjunct employment opportunities is to develop a tightly focused search strategy that creates a documentation source for each of the accredited online bachelor degree programs and accredited online masters degree programs to which and online faculty position application has been submitted every day. Eventually, more online college classes will be added to the online teaching schedule. This will cause multiple streams of online adjunct income to appear every month. In the end, online teaching for multiple online degree programs will prove to be a vital career path for college instructors.