Online course design

September 30, 2007

Dr. Lowell’s post here discusses teachers’  views on online courses . Many teachers don’t like  online courses and say that they are more difficult and feel that the teacher is not there for support. This feeling of being lefte alone is a function of the manner in which the course in implemented.

Distance education via the internet is still a new concept and many instructors teach the courses as new fangled correspondence courses. The teacher give you some papers to write and you write them and get your grade. Using this scenario little interaction occurs with the instructor or other students in the class, this often causes students o feel that distance classes are more difficult that normal classes.

Teachers are often between a rock and a hard place when designing online courses. Engagement all comes down to the student teacher ration, teachers must be able to interact with students and provide feedback on their work. With a 100:1 ratio the teacher must use tools to gauge learning that are time efficient so they can teach that many students.

Technology is not the magic bullet, just as in real life unless money is placed into education so that teacher to student ratio is lowered teachers must use what they have to get by. The sacrifice that occurs by using tools to get by is a diminished amount of interaction and feedback between the teacher and student.


One Response to “Online course design”

  1. Nate Lowell Says:

    I agree up to a point but I think I’d put it another way.

    Our class of 15 students is very small compared to what I’d like to see. Teaching an online course of 25-35 would seem to me to be the ideal number. For others, any number over 10 is overloading their ability to cope.

    Why? Practice. I know the tools, I use them to engage you, and that has nothing to do with student:teacher ratios. Actually, since there are so few of us here, I’m having to work harder to keep the discussions going because we’re just under what I’d consider critical mass for discussion.

    It *does* take money — but money to train teachers is not the same as money to increase the numbers of teachers. Unfortunately, training teachers up to the level of expertise required may actually cost more than just hiring more untrained teachers.

    That’ll work great as long as you’re not terribly concerned about outcomes. 😉

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