Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bad News and Good News

I'll start with the bad news.

Because of low enrollment, there's a very, very huge chance that my online class that I have discussed in this blog is going to be cut from this Fall's Schedule of Classes.

To say the least, I'm not happy. I worked really hard to make the online course multi-dimensional and engaging. My goal was the make this course as personable and challenging as my f2f classes, and I met that goal. My dream is to see it run. I'm saying prayers and keeping my fingers crossed.

I just hadn't thought about low enrollment until I talked with my boss a few weeks ago. In order for students to enroll in the online class, they must meet certain requirements: one is that they must be a.) a student who needs the class b/c his/her schedule doesn't work with a f2f class, b.) an adult learner who is taking classes through Continuing Ed, c.) a commuter or d.) a student who has not taken the class before f2f and not passed it. Once the student's information is verified, then he/she goes through an online screening process to make sure he/she effectively can complete online tasks. Though I fully understand the intentions behind the requirements and screening process, I feel like more students would be enrolled if the requirements were a more open to on-campus students who might have a job and/or activities that an online class would benefit. Heck, it would be great if any on-campus, commuter, and distant learner could easily enroll in the class. I really believe that any student would comprehend the work load and be able to navigate Blackboard after one week in my online class, which makes me wonder if the screening process is completely necessary. Without the screening process, I feel more students would register for the class because it would be one less step to worry about. Again, I fully understand that the intention of the screening process is to weed out students who want an easy way out of a required course. However, I firmly believe any student who registered in my online class b/c he/she thought it would be easier than attending class would find out quite quickly the first week that I expect a lot from my online students, just as much as my f2f students.

I support my department. Period. I just wonder if there are revisions that could be made to the registration of online classes in order to encourage enrollment. Online classes are the way of the future. I seriously learned so much from the online class I took through IDEAL (in order to train instructors to teach online) that I wish my graduate program would have had online classes. I would have taken them. And I bet I would have retained more from my program than I did.

While thinking about the merits of online teaching, I decided that the #1 benefit of teaching writing online is that writing is the main form of communication! How perfect, huh? Students learn even more about writing as they write discussion board responses, collaborative suggestions, feedback to peers, emails to the instructor and peers, etc. Talk about applying what a student learns about audience, tone, focus, etc.! Online classes are a valuable and progressive learning environment, especially those, like mine, that incorporate Web 2.0 technologies to keep students alert and challenged and those that take online learning seriously by clearly stating student expectations and responsibilities. In fact, I bet a lot of students experience more hands-on learning online than in a classroom where the temperature in the room might be too hot or too cold, where a student might be tempted to stare out the window daydreaming about tonight's plans while the instructor writes on the board, where making a good impression on the cute person in the next seat over is more important than the day's lesson, where some students even SLEEP. I remember being a student quite vividly. Hence, I did not retain a lot of lessons from my grad school courses, or more so, my undergrad courses. I had other things going on. I was at class, but most times my mind was somewhere else. Maybe I would be an even smarter teacher and person if I could have had online classes that let me learn when I was focused and ready to learn. At some point students have to learn to be responsible for their learning. Online classes makes them responsible for learning and taking their education into their own hands. How rad!

Online classes are the wave of the future, and I just feel that if my university plans on keeping up with the times, then every department needs to have a few online classes and inform instructors and professors about the usefulness of technology. Otherwise, more and more students are going to be daydreaming and sleeping while instructors try desperately to figure out how they can keep their students' attentions.

I promise to reveal the results once I find them out. Please keep your fingers crossed.

In the Spring I hope to teach the researched writing course online. I'm beginning to work on that course now, so expect more frequent posts. I'm excited about developing that course online b/c it has great potential for tying in multi-medias and even more Web 2.0 applications.

And now for even more good news: My "intro to the essay" videos are edited and uploaded to uTube. Check them out! I'm really pleased with the fabulous work! Thank you so much Terence and Michael!

No comments: