Monday, October 3, 2011

Online Education: What Works...

The NYT has an interesting editorial focusing on online education.

Majia Here: My personal views on online education:

Online education has great potential, although in my opinion it can never offer the exciting synergy of a good classroom experience (a phenomenon that doesn't occur daily but happens regularly in well taught classes with motivated students).

The problem with online education is that it requires massive inputs to produce quality courses that are engaging and truly educational.

Inputs include time and knowledge.

An online class that simply teaches a textbook or two is a total waste of energy for all involved.

A good online class incorporates the knowledge and experience of a professor who synthesizes course reading materials with additional readings and the profession's professional knowledge base.

All of this information and knowledge must be presented in an accessible and engaging way to students.

Online courses must also be set up with the goal of fostering student engagement with the material through appropriate and interesting assignments and discussion forums.

Students must be motivated to really learn and not simply perceive online classes as a "convenient" and/or "easy" way to complete required coursework.

Good quality online education requires educated, knowledgeable professors working with able and willing tech support. Both groups must have been allocated adequate time for the massive investments of energy that go into the initial production of a quality online course.

I know good quality online education exists, but I also know that a lot of online education is a waste of energy and time.

The problem is that many universities are trying to do online education cheaply and treat the creation of an online class as equivalent to the teaching of an in-person class.

Worse, many institutions are having faculty set up classes and then having low-paid professionals or graduate students teach them. Ugh.

Quality education is not cheap and although I think online education has promise, the quality of instruction will not rise to the promise if the McDonalds' model prevails.


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