Subsequent to my interview online with SR Education Group, I communicated with a full professor of education who has won her university’s teaching excellence award. She teaches a course in an online Master’s Degree program. I was struck that the entire degree programme was online. I did not know her university had an entire graduate degree programme online since the professor teaches at a brick-and-mortar institution near Lake Michigan that does not advertise the online experience.
She told me that she learned how to proffer online instruction at the University of Illinois-Springfield at some workshop or training session funded by her university. This was skills development after her completion of her graduate training and during her tenure as an education professor. These were the basics of her assessment of the experience:
A) It is very time consuming. Four hours a day is not uncommon. She actually spreads out her two-semester load so she can handle the task. She is not getting paid extra for summer teaching but is a carryover course from spring semester load. Ugh. I feel get it done before summer and take off the summer!
B) Some of her brick-and-mortar courses are less successful than this online course.
C) She never sees her students but they call her once a term. I was struck that this very un-online approach was considered necessary. This suggested to me that the instructor needed more human contact as it were to embellish the cyber relationship that dominates teacher-student online interaction. I don’t know if she requires phone calling but did say she speaks to them during the course via phone.
D) I asked her if she could prevent cheating on examinations since she could not verify the actual student taking the exam. She indicated she gets to know the students’ online style and learns their online personalities. I did not find that particularly persuasive but then again perhaps it would be unusual for a ringer to take an online test but the issue of security cannot be dismissed.
E) She said her students were highly motivated and performed at a high level of achievement. She conceded many types of courses would not be appropriate for online instruction in the field of education. Yet to be fair, she seemed basically satisfied with the online experience.
How does one assess teaching in an online world? There are no lectures per se. There are no dynamic face-to-face encounters with students. I wonder how does a chair, a dean and department or unit peers assess the quality of online instruction? I am not talking about student evaluations; I am talking about assessment of an instructor for promotion or tenure who teaches exclusively or primarily online. I would be willing to post answers to these questions if someone provides them to email@example.com