I should have known better than to launch an “unscientific survey” a few days into our official summer. I probably should know better than to ask again for comments a few days before the July 4th holiday weekend.
But I think it’s a topic worth pursuing given all the chatter since Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s iCollege proposal on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
First, thanks to Larry Copes, Bill Gleason and Susan Perry for their thoughtful comments about e-learning vs. in-class instruction.
I posed these questions to readers in last Thursday’s post: Did students do better online or in a classroom with the instructor, and why or why not? What kinds of classes work well online and which ones don’t?
Here are a few excerpts from their comments:
Copes, a former math professor at Augsburg College: “The most successful e-learning seems to have occurred when I’ve posed a problem that piques students’ curiosity and asked them to find out enough mathematics to solve it. Most of them use their online fluency to make a good deal of progress. Upon request, I give suggestions of terms to Google, and I answer their questions. I also moderate as they share what they’ve learned with each other (perhaps also online) to solve the problem.”
Gleason, who teaches biomaterials at University of Minnesota Twin Cities: “My only direct experience with online teaching was through the U of M’s excellent UNITE system. This allowed lectures at the U to be simultaneously broadcast to sites off campus such as 3M, Medtronic. … The exams and papers were exactly the same for the folks who took the course on campus by physically attending the lectures and those off campus. Off-campus students could also ask questions during the lecture. I’d say the performance of the folks off-campus was slightly better than those on campus. [Added]This may have been because they had industrial experience and were perhaps a little better able to multifunction. The course was an introduction to biomaterials.”
Perry, who writes MinnPost’s Second Opinion blog and teaches editing at Metropolitan State University: “I have found that teaching online is much more time intensive. For example, instead of answering a question once, in front of all the students, I must often answer the question half a dozen times (or more) for individual students. Answering all student questions in writing is also incredibly time-consuming, as is reading the dozens of student messages that go up on my course site daily. (Students ‘talk’ and work on group projects together — activities I must constantly monitor. I also get e-mails — and phone calls — from them.)”
I hope others — teachers, students, anyone (please) — will share their thoughts either in Comments below or in the original post, where you can read the rest of the comments from Copes, Gleason and Perry.