What enrollment in an online class has taught me about online learning

  1. There’s lots of incentive to phone it in: In a regular face-to-face class, the instructor needs to show up. And do something. If the instructor isn’t physically there, the students know that something is wrong. They can, and will, advocate for themselves. The same is not true of online classroom where the instructor can check who has logged on or added to the discussion — but where students can’t do the same to keep the instructor in check. I am enrolled in a class where I have received zero feedback. Zero. I haven’t seen one instructor response on the discussion board. For all I know, he’s logging in on Sunday evening, glancing to see if a person posted and then typing a number into the grade book.
  2. Students need to understand their rights as students. I’m not sure what means are in place to ensure that students know when they’re receiving quality online instruction.
  3. Instructors really need to provide rubrics. Discussion boards filled with vague, non-evidence based claims are driving me up the wall. And I can’t really blame the students — some of whom are only 18 — because there are no guidelines in place for these discussions. We all lose without these rubrics, and without feedback. When we have a “discussion” about our target market, for instance, I can’t learn anything if everyone says things like “my market is really big.” Gaa!
  4. Mostly, though, it’s really frustrating when your teacher doesn’t seem responsive to you, and doesn’t seem to see you. I’ve already done copious research on online learning, so I already knew most of this stuff. Being a student has really driven home for me the annoyance that students feel when a number grade is ambiguous, when they see their teaching “holding them accountable” (why the heck  are you making someone with an MA in English write a chapter summary, seriously?), or when they suspect that their teacher isn’t present.
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