Friday, November 10, 2006

Report: Number of students taking online courses rises -

Hey, look! You're part of a trend :)


Ioana said...

I agree that online learning has many advantages and can be a very good option especially for people who work at the same time and/or have families, as it offers a great flexibility of schedule. It also implicitly or explicitly teaches you skills that you'll most probably need in real life and the future profession (i.e. it helps you familiarize with technology, from the basics, like how to write an email, till more complicated programs/softwares etc).
As for some of the drawbacks of the online courses, I agree with those ennunciated in the article; they require more self-discipline from the students (this has always been my problem :) and I also feel like it's easier to loose contact with you teacher and/or classmates in an online course rather than in a traditional course.

Dan said...

I agree with your drawbacks. These are both issues that go way beyond an individual class. These are systemic issues in education.

Self-motivation often required in online courses is one reason why so many of the learn anytime at any pace classes failed. When left on their own, students tended to fade away shortly after beginning the course.

However, this is less of an issue in courses like ours. The structure of the class and the time tables imposed keep people on task. Not to mention the grades :)

A lot of work goes into keeping students/teachers connected in a course like this and sometimes it's just impossible. In the face-to-face class, you SEE the instructor and students at least a couple times a week. This is how we have defined connected for our entire lives as students (and as teachers).

The real problem, in my opinion, is that these courses are isolated. If we could connect with other courses and professionals both around the country and around the world, we would always have someone to talk to no matter when we like to do our work. I see this as the next step bringing the world into the classrooms.


Janine said...

As a student who has taken 8 online graduate courses, I agree that online courses can actually provide more learning than face-to-face classes. I believe that the trend will grow. I also see that, for both the instructor and the student, online education can be more time consuming.

One question that I have not answered is the degree of effectiveness of online courses for beginning foreign language students. As an instructor of 2 foreign languages from first grade to college level, I don't see how students could get enough "authentic" conversation practice to become proficient. Some students will learn regardless of the context, but for those who require more practice and assistance, I don't think that online foreign language courses will be very effective.

It will be interesting to see the learning opportunities that develop as voice recognition software becomes "smarter." As an instructor, I think I would not feel as effective in an online classroom, but I do very much appreciate the opportunities that this option provides for those who otherwise would not take classes.

Dan said...

I still think that the jury is out on that one. What does online learning hold for beginning language learning students?

However, I can't believe that it would be any worse than many face-to-face classes out there. Imagine the ideal (at least for me) of one-on-one video conferencing coupled with other presentation/dissemination technologies and a some sort of community interaction. I think that this would produce excellent results.

Unfortunately, I don't think that it's really scalable. It's essentially a one-on-one model of instruction, which would cost quite a bit. I also question whether this would work with younger learners. My intuition says no, but I could be surprised. Applications like Second Life could hold real promise for younger learners. In these environments video wouldn't even be necessary, but audio would.

Lots of questions, few answers. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Oh, yeah. You might want to look into "The Linguist" website. They are doing just this.


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