The New York Times has an interesting article on some of the new non-traditional routes to earn a college degree. Most of the ideas presented in the article are not new to readers of this blog. But one statement stuck out to me:
“Taking a course online, by yourself, is not the same as being in a classroom with a professor who can respond to you, present different viewpoints and push you to work a problem,” Professor Neem said.
Sadly, this shows how little this professor knows about online learning. Professors can respond to you in online learning – sometimes even more often than they can in the limited time that face-to-face courses afford. Professors can present different viewpoints online (or anywhere they want for that matter), and they can push you to work a problem.
There are many benefits to face-to-face learning that online learning can’t accomplish, but unfortunately none of them are touched on this article. Fairly typical.
Of course, many of my face to face classes had professors that couldn’t be bothered to respond to me, present different viewpoints, or push me to work a problem. These are personality traits of individual instructors, not characteristics of online learning.
No wonder online learning is still in an uphill battle. Many of the “experts” that the media find have no business being interviewed in the first place.
Matt is currently an Instructional Designer II at Orbis Education and a Part-Time Instructor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Previously he worked as a Learning Innovation Researcher with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His work focuses on learning theory, Heutagogy, and learner agency. 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.