With little advance warning, and time to prepare, the field of higher education rapidly transformed in 2020 and almost all classes had to move to a virtual learning environment. To the surprise of some instructors and students, it was discovered learning could actually occur within this environment and academic rigor be upheld in the same manner as traditional classes, that is once instructors were able to overcome the initial learning curve. Making the transition from face-to-face teaching to online teaching is not an easy one, until you've taught a few classes and developed a teaching style.
Then there are those instructors and students who have already been familiar with this type of learning platform and did not have an initial adjustment period. There are online schools...Continue reading »
Students fear failure. It's not just a failing grade many students fear; it can be the fear of not receiving a perfect score each week for all required learning activities. I've worked with many doctoral learners who earn less than 100 points for their discussion posts in a previous week and believe they have failed. All they can focus on is the loss of points, even if it just six or eight points. The same holds true for written assignments. A less than perfect grade somehow indicates failure because "they have worked really hard", "put a lot of effort into the assignment", and "should be awarded full points". Some learners may believe I have somehow been excessively critical or nit-picking with my feedback, when it did not meet their expectations.
I attempt to change the...Continue reading »
Welcome to the new normal, teaching adult students from a laptop or computer. Or at least this is what many instructors are beginning to experience. Yet there is a segment of higher education with those, like myself, who have already been providing transformative education via virtual classrooms for quite a long time.
Not only are we well-adjusted to this type of learning, we already know it is an effective method for teaching students, even while many instructors are just now making this discovery and attempting to adapt their teaching strategies.
What gave me a unique perspective of online teaching to begin with was my experience as an online learner. I earned a majority of my academic degrees from an online school, and this taught me the value of presence, interactions...Continue reading »
The shift to virtual learning which occurred in 2020 may have changed higher education in a profound manner, even after the crisis that caused the transition to occur is finally resolved. Students who have never taken an online class now realize they can learn in this manner. Yet many educators who never taught in this environment understand teaching online is not easier than teaching in a traditional classroom. A lack of visual and verbal cues presents an immediate learning curve for anyone who is just starting to teach online. In addition, the learning management system alone cannot be relied upon as the reason why students succeed in this type of environment. However, virtual learning has already established a proven track record of meeting the needs of students.
One of the...Continue reading »
Online educators have been implementing the work-at-home model long before there was the 2020 crisis. Some referred to it as "teaching in your pajamas" – because of the nature of the job, which often meant for many, working a full-time position during the day while teaching as an adjunct during the evening hours. Those who are in a full-time position may still find themselves working during both daytime and evening hours, simply due to the needs of the learners and the requirements of classroom management. I've been in both roles over the past 15 years, and my ability to balance a professional and personal life has come about through time and practice.
While the roles may have a slight variation from one online school to the next, the requirements are generally the same. To be...Continue reading »
Why do you aspire to teach, or continue to teach, online classes? This is a question I have been asking myself for over a decade now, and I use it as a means of self-reflection, to determine if I am growing and adapting as the needs of learners are changing. What I've found is the technology has certainly changed, and the tools within the classroom have also changed, but there are some basic learner needs that have remained unchanged. For example, learners need to know their online instructor is present and engaged in the class, and easily accessible. This should be a simple requirement to meet, and yet I know of many instructors who check into their classes only when needed, making their job a series of rote functions. Do you believe learners notice this disposition? You can be...Continue reading »
We live in an unprecedented time with higher education being disrupted, as traditional classes are being moved online, at least for the time being. Whether or not this will continue for any length of time remains to be seen. This has occurred at an interesting time for the field of distance learning as many of the for-profit schools have closed, and the growth of new online schools has slowed. The number of online schools growing is limited, and competition comes from traditional schools offering online classes.
With a move of traditional classes to an online platform, there is a challenge for many educators to adapt to a virtual environment. Those educators who teach in this environment already, such as myself, are already accustomed to creating a virtual presence. However,...Continue reading »
Your students come to class or log onto an online platform and complete required tasks, which must mean to some degree they are interested in learning. Somehow, through class lectures or informative posts an educator has taken time to develop, these students will acquire knowledge they need, and through the activities designed to ensure they take the time to read and apply what has been read, they will meet the required outcomes. That's the plan when a course is designed and implemented.
But the reality is many students are going through the motions of repetitive, reactively responding to the course materials and activities they are required to complete. If it is a class discussion, their response may be based upon a world view held now, which is closely protected and rarely...Continue reading »
When students begin your class, do you inherently expect they will read the Course Syllabus and related materials, then comply as required, without any hesitation? Or could it be possible students will arrive in your class, on the first day, and find you have created a learning environment which is slightly different in some manner? Perhaps you have expectations which are different to some degree, you've written the syllabus differently in some manner, or your approach to teaching is more direct (or hands-on) than the previous instructors. In other words, rarely do students transition from one class to the next without having to adapt in some manner, even when school policies and processes remain the same. There are no two instructors who are alike or teach in the same manner, even...Continue reading »