Online Learning…Good Or Bad??

Distance education was founded in 1728, but there has been an increasing focus on online learning in recent research and literature (“Infographic history of distance education”). Online learning has become more widespread and popular due to the many benefits it offers. Some benefits of online learning include: greater flexibility, a broader target population, cost efficiency, self-discipline and self-directed learning, and the attainment of college credentials.

Advancing technology has allowed us the opportunity to create a new way to earn an education. Although there are many benefits of online learning, it has its disadvantages as well. A few drawbacks of online learning include: decreased retention, self-discipline (lack of), lack of social interaction and reliance on technology. However, research has shown online learning to be just as effective as traditional learning . According to a meta-analysis by Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia and Jones (2009), online learning and traditional learning were found to be statistically equivalent in their effectiveness. The meta-analysis also found that students in online learning environments performed better than those in a traditional setting.

Three well-known MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) that are currently operating are Coursera, edX, and Udacity.

  •  Coursera is dedicated to providing educational access to all. Through a partnership with universities and organizations, Coursera presents online courses designed to be available universally. Coursera provides an online training course for educators to master MOOC’s. The Learning To Teach Online (LTTO) MOOC was created to help educators enhance and advance their skills for teaching online and/or blended courses. The duration of the online course is 6 weeks, averaging  between 3-6 hours of work per week. There are 8 different modules required to be completed in order to pass the course. For any educators that may be interested, a form to apply for the course can be accessed here.
  • EdX was founded in 2012 by Harvard University and MIT, with the goal of providing a free education to all. EdX has more than 90 partnerships with universities and institutions around the world. EdX is currently the only MOOC operating as a non-profit organization.
  • Udacity, founded by Stanford University, strives to create an affordable and effective higher education program available globally. Udacity is dedicated to “teaching the skills that industry employers need today, delivering credentials endorsed by employers, and educating at a fraction of the cost of traditional schools.”

In The Limits Of Open, Carl Straumsheim discusses some of the shortcomings of MOOC’s. According to Carl, without paying for courses, students are only able to view graded assignments. Only those who pay for the courses can have full access to the graded assignments. Although it is free to explore materials such as, videos, lectures, discussion, and practice quizzes, learners must pay in order to receive an actual certificate of completion and to receive academic credit.

According to the article, How To Break Into Online Teaching, there are certain preliminary actions to be considered before beginning to teach online.

  • Identify your skill level of:
    • Time management and organization
    • Online communication
    • Teaching in an online environment
    • Technology
  • Know what kind of teaching job to search for
  • Activate and use your social networks
    • Academic groups
    • Alumni
    • Professional associations
  • Choose which courses you have the ability to teach
  • Examine alternative options

**The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and Best Practices for Teaching Online websites provide helpful resources pertaining to online learning strategies for professors of online courses. In addition, Anastasia Salter has written several helpful articles to aid professors on their online teaching journey. These can be accessed from one of her posts, Wrapping Up A Large Online Course.**

Please join us for our upcoming Tuesday, March 22nd session on “Teaching Online.” Our esteemed presenters for the March 22nd session include:

Lily Shafer– Instructional Designer
Silvia Mejia– Department of World Languages and Cultures
Daniel Nester– Associate Professor of English

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!! 🙂


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