Does "Anytime, Anywhere Education" Include Teachers?

One of the biggest selling points to online education is that it is “anytime, anywhere” learning – meaning that you can learn according to your schedule, where ever you can get access to the Internet. I know it doesn’t always equate to this exactly in real life, but it does get close most of the time.

At a recent focus group, I was discussing how I had a hard time figuring out the plagiarism rules for a class I was in online. The issue wasn’t stealing someone else’s work – it was reusing a portion of my own work. Both papers in question needed a section on the history of EdTech and, well, there’s not a wide range of ways to cover that in a few paragraphs. I couldn’t find info about self-recycling in the syllabus of either class, so I researched it online and found that the academic community seems to be split on it. So I decided to try as hard as I could to make both sections totally different (which proved difficult) and not chance it.

The response at the session was the usual: “why didn’t you just ask the professor?” My response was supposed to be “I’m a pretty do-it-yourself guy, and I didn’t want to wait for the response.” All that came out was that I didn’t want to wait for the response. Then the uproar followed: “well, those professors should get on the ball and respond faster! How dare they wait more that 12 hours to respond to e-mail!” (yep, someone said all that)

Really? I mean – if your bossed required you to check your work email at home and respond at all hours of the night, what would you think about that job? In a face-to-face class, if the professor’s office hours were on Thursdays, and class was on Tuesday, and you had a question on Friday – guess when you would get your answer? Maybe on Monday, bu probably In four days. Definitely not 12 hours.

If we are going to promote “anytime, anywhere learning,” I guess we do need to expand office hours beyond the fours hours a week that they traditionally have happened. But there has got to be a balance. Professors have lives, too. They need to take time away from work during the week to be refreshed themselves. And they need time to keep up with their field of study so that they can give us current, relevant information. So, where is the balance?

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

8 thoughts on “Does "Anytime, Anywhere Education" Include Teachers?

  1. Matt Crosslin

    Oh – and just to say – as a former online student, I totally support instructors having a life. If it takes several days to get a response, I am fine with that. If I ever get to a spot where I have to have an answer in less time that that, then I feel that is poor planning on my part. But that is just my opinion.

  2. Erin Jennings

    I have read of an online program that provides teaching assistants/student mentors as additional resources. They decrease the response time on student questions and emails and take some of the pressure off the instructor. I can’t remember where I read about it, but I’ll check my course materials when I get home and try to find it. It seemed like a good system, especially for education courses where the teaching assistant gains practical experience by assisting with the class.

    As for reusing previous work, Capella University treats it as cheating. I ran into a case this quarter where I wanted to take a project from a previous course and develop it further for another (by taking a proposal for a course and fleshing it out into storyboards and budgets), but even that seemed to fall under cheating in their guidelines. I understand the principle behind the rule, but I think we could make legitimate arguments in support of both our cases.

  3. Matt Crosslin

    I’ve noticed that those that are in favor of re-using previous work call it ‘self-recycling,’ and those that are against it call it ‘self-plagiarizing.’ :)

  4. Katrina Adams

    The way we try to handle this situation is in the syllabus, the prof clearly states that s/he will respond to email within 2 business days. (Some profs choose one business day.) This sets students’ expectations from the very beginning of the class. And at least nine times out of ten, the prof usually responds much, much quicker than this.

  5. Erin Jennings

    Heh – that sounds about right :) It would be nice if there were some middle ground in the rules… obviously there’s a big difference between using a snippet of text from a previous assignment and just recycling the whole paper.

    That brings up an interesting question, though: isn’t there something wrong with the academic program if a student is able to use the same paper for multiple courses? Shouldn’t there always be some sort of adaptation or elaboration required as the student progresses from course to course? And if there is — it doesn’t seem so wrong to me for that student to take what they’ve already done and build upon it.

    My animation courses often encouraged that practice: I’d write a story in one class, storyboard it in another, design the characters and sets in a third, etc, until I had a fully-developed animated short. It seems to me that the same model would apply well to the instructional design program at Capella, and probably any number of additional programs.

  6. Matt Crosslin

    Have you ever found that professors need to clarify what ‘business’ days means? Like: ‘I sent you the question on Friday, and it’s Monday and still no answer!’

  7. Matt Crosslin

    isn’t there something wrong with the academic program if a student is able to use the same paper for multiple courses?

    Excellent point. That should be true in most colleges. But it probably isn’t. There could also be an issue with transferred in courses. Especially in online education. Come to think of it, I think that was where I was having problems – between an elective from another university.

  8. Katrina Adams

    Not that I’ve heard about. The majority of our students work in business, so ‘business days’ should be familiar to them. (We hope.) Even I, with my ‘lowly’ edtech degree understand the phrase! ;) :D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *