I Like Online Learning!?!

As a student, I loved quick-paced classes because the pace ensured I would never feel bored.  And if the pace got too quick, I could always ask the teacher to repeat something or answer a question that I had.   For me, school was filled with dialogue, with peers and with my instructors.   So when our department started offering online classes, I was glad that other people taught them.  I could not even conceive of how I could teach an online class.  But a few years back, one of my colleagues asked the calculus instructors to get certified in and use Etudes as our course management system in support of a grant she was running.   The Etudes certification class was an online class.  And by the time I finished it, I began to see how a person could develop an online community.  So when my dean was looking for someone to teach an online calculus class, I did it.  I spent many, many summer hours putting that class together.  It was my best work and it was really far from perfect.  There was a lot for me to learn there.

Teaching online DEFINITELY made my face-to-face classes better.  I didn’t anticipate that.  One quarter, I had a higher success rate in my online class.  I didn’t anticipate that.  I asked my online students why they chose online.  “I have small children at home;”  “It saves me driving to campus some days.”  I had anticipated those reasons.  What I didn’t anticipate included:  “All the other sections were full;”  “It’s the only way I can fit it into my class schedule;” “I like online classes.”

“I like online classes.”

“Hmm,”  I’d respond.  “What do you like about them?”  In general, students responded that they liked the freedom of schedule. They could go at their own pace.  They could work when they wanted to.  When they needed more info, they could access videos.  I heard them, but I never really understood until I enrolled this year in online classes myself.  The single greatest part of online learning for me is that I’m always working at my edge.  If something is easy, it gets done SUPER QUICKLY (no wasted time).  If something is harder, I can take all the time I need, without worrying about continuing to listen to the teacher and getting “lost.”

I didn’t anticipate liking online learning.  But I like it a lot!

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2 thoughts on “I Like Online Learning!?!

  1. I’m going to teach my first fully online class this summer (I know, bad idea. People tell me I should start with a quarter and then figure out how to shrink it down for a 6 week class). Oh well… it’s happening. I’m excited, if not a little nervous. But I’m going into it knowing it will be a positive experience for my students. For years, I’ve been integrating more and more online features to all of my classes, and one thing I’m looking forward to is the “permanence” of what happens in a fully online class. When teaching face-to-face, the conversation is so ephemeral I find I’m regularly forgetting things I’ve said or students have said. I often ask, “Wait, did I already talk to you about this?” which happens most frequently when I’m teaching multiple sections of the same class. With my online section this summer, I’ll be interested in seeing how it affects student work when they can always go back and see the discussions, and the lectures, and the feedback from any point of the class.

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    1. I, too, felt like I realized very positive effects when I started to maintain an online community for my face-to-face students. By getting syllabus and calendar and reminders set up there, I found that I was much more consistent with support materials like reviews and exam prep recommendations. It felt like a lot of students benefited from that.

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