Teaching Online Classes
What is it like to teach an online class? How does it differ from teaching a traditional class? The basic difference is that in a traditional class one operates in real space and time, but in online teaching one operates in cyber space and in asynchronous time. The former, makes one a prisoner of time and space and the latter frees one. For example, if you were teaching a class in composition in Boston, you could hop from Boston to New Delhi and then from New Delhi to New Orleans and not miss a beat in your classroom, which is now located in cyberspace and accessible on your laptop. So, as long as you are tuned into your laptop or have access to a computer, you can continue to teach your class. Most would consider this an advantage of major flexibility. And yet, this is just the beginning of the advantages of the online system over the traditional system. If you have a dislike for calling attendance, you are in luck, for the online system calls attendance for you. It also provides a predesigned curriculum and weekly lesson plans along with criteria for judging performance. It averages the students' grades and offers tutorials for the student weak spots. It provides assignments based on the goals and criteria of the course and expresses the criteria of acceptable performance in a rubric. The teacher becomes a facilitator, guiding the student through the stages of experience and critical thought. Each phase is expressed as a color coded pane on the monitor. The expression is more than coverage of material; it is a dynamic curriculum with the focus on process rather than parroting the instructor. Students are charged with the responsibility of making observations for increasing their effectiveness and then sharing their discoveries with the class. For example, the students may discover ways of navigating a search and share this with the class. All profit by the student's discovery.
This stream of thought runs through the entire curriculum. With grades, the student may review their standing averages at any time and call for a conference at any time. The grades are automatically stored and averaged. Attendance is taken electronically as the student signs in. Conferences may be called by the instructor or student, and they usually take place online in a private cell, by email or by phone. The grades become a basis upon which conferences are held. They are usually held for content purposes, but if there is contention between the instructor and student, then they will be held with counsel present. If at any time the student has questions she may click on Ask the Professor and the student can expect a 24 hrs. turnaround. The question and response are posted on the monitor and all the students can expand their potential by reviewing them. If the instructor thinks that the questions asked her warrant tutoring as a response, she can recommend any number of online tutorials. There are tutorials available in the basics of math and English grammar, in APA documentation, in avoiding plagiarism via use of Turnitin.com, in online library review, and in how to use the online library. An online robot will conduct an online tour through the online library. Here, one gets a taste for the electronic possibilities in the realm of pedagogy. The essence of the course is perhaps in the domain called Discussion Thread. Here the students field thematic questions. A thread is an explored theme. The instructor introduces the theme and the students respond. The theme can be a subject matter question or a curriculum question or even of an ethical nature. For example, the instructor may ask the class to consider the sentence, "John is easy to please"and note that one can convert it to the passive form, "To please John is easy." But when we consider a like sentence: "John is eager to please." The passive form breaks down, for we can't grammatically say: "To please John is eager." The question is WHY? Another example is to ask what is the difference between an online curriculum and a traditional curriculum. Thematic threads can show up in undergraduate courses as well as graduate; thus in an online master degree-even in online doctorate degree. Online organization shows up in practical professions like online nursing education and in online elementary teaching jobs.
Not all phases of online development are graded. Some, like Student Lounge are intentionally not graded. The idea is to build a context in which students may share their ideas on content and personal issues. No grade is expected, but the hope is that bonding will take place and become a support mechanism throughout the students' academic career and beyond. When this happens the course is more valuable in the long run. The student gets a chance to recreate the course throughout his professional life.
Perhaps the only obvious downside to the online structure is that the student must master a method of navigating a new platform. But remember, the training that the new instructor will go through will take care of most of this problem. And remember also, the new instructor will be assigned a mentor and the mentor like a guardian angel is by the new instructor side by side, point out aspects of the platform and techniques for navigating on the new monitor. Another point. Often, a traditionalist wants to know how to control the student when they are taking an objective test. The student could look up the answers they say. The answer is that is why the tests are timed. The student is not given sufficient time to look up very much of the answers. The answer to the same question about research essays is that the papers must be documented according to APA (American Psychological Association) and the authenticity of the essay is checked according to Turnitin.com which checks the essay against millions of like syntax and word choice. A percentage of identical language is caluculated easily.
College and university students today are quite comfortable with the idea of enrolling in accredited online bachelor degree programs and online master's degree programs in order to earn an online college degree from their personal computers. This is why it is important for adjunct college teachers to take notice of the growth of distance education and its impact on the academic labor force. An individual with an earned graduate degree, a master's degree or Ph.D., can earn a very nice living teaching online courses for a variety of post-secondary academic institutions offering accredited online college degree programs to their students. Undoubtedly, a full populated online teaching schedule with eight to ten online courses can represent full time online adjunct faculty employment. The online adjunct income streams generated by the online teaching portfolio can easily top the possible college teaching income earned by continuing to provide post-secondary instruction on a physical college, university or community college campus.