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Don't you love those commercials for online universities? You can go to college at home, in your pajamas!! Well, I teach at a small state-located university and I am now training special education teachers on the Master's level, at home, everyone in pajamas. Sort of.

Where do I start? First, my comment on teaching at a state-located university. For those of you not in the ed. biz, that may need some clarification. When I first came here, 23 years ago, we considered ourselves a state university. With budget cuts, we began calling ourselves a state-sponsored university. Now with GOP governor and legislature, we  think of ourselves as state-located. The state provides less than 30% of our funding.

What does this have to do with online education? We make our budget by recruiting and retaining students. We are in a rural area with declining population. To stay alive, increasingly we have to recruit by offering classes, even entire degrees, online.

I have mixed feelings about this.

A year ago, I hated online classes. I didn't understand how to teach them. I didn't know how to take what had made me a sparkling presence in a classroom and make that happen live. I didn't know how to build in rigor, yet provide support. I didn't know how to keep the plates spinning.

The technology was not a problem for me. I am very comfortable with all the bells and whistles of the Internet. Surprisingly, it was not as easy for my students. Many of them struggle with what I consider the basics of technology and I learned to build in activities that tapped into content but also built tech skills.

I learned the rest of it. Learned how to use tricks of engagement and variety of assignments. Learned the balance between support and nagging. Learned how to nurture, mentor, give feedback, all the things I used to do live. Even learned how to share the stories that were the hallmark of my teaching.

What I continue to struggle with is actually the same problem with teaching live: the nature of today's college student. Do you remember being told that for every hour of lecture you should be prepared to do 3 hours of outside work? Today's college student is like everyone else in our society- over-committed, over-scheduled, frantically, grindingly busy. They have been told that online courses allow them to fit college into those spare minutes of the day. They do not consider the need for concentration, reflection, preparation and reading.

The other problem common to both online and brick-and-mortar classes is the emergence of the idea that a college course is a product.  I will admit that some college professors have, in previous generations,  been arrogant, out of touch, impersonal. But the amount of attention and care expected by the average college student today is astounding. They have paid (usually from borrowed funds) a large amount of money to be there, and they expect much in return.  I paid my money. I came to class. I did the work. Regardless of the quality of said work, I deserve the grade I paid for.  

For online instructors, this means 24/7 availability. Students see the university like the cable company. Have a problem? Call customer service. Which in their minds means Chair of department, Dean or even Provost. So in addition to teaching, an online instructor must answer emails, phone calls, text messages immediately.

I didn't intend to descend into a whine. Sorry about that. My point of all this is much bigger than this post. Like everything else in this hyper-commercialized world, education has become a commodity. We are losing the art of it. We are losing the science of it. It has become just another highly marketed product. As Thom Hartmann so often reminds us, we have lost the concept of the Commons, a place free from commerce.

Originally posted to vickijean on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 08:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I teach online composition (31+ / 0-)

    I just finished teaching an online 5-week class in junior composition (the research paper). I only had 20 students at the start of the class. 5 dropped somewhere along the way. 4 earned a D--barely. I consider that abysmal. Most college students should not take this class, centered on the research paper, in this condensed, online form. If students are not already strong readers and writers, they will not fare well with this content delivery system. The first page of my syllabus is covered in warnings, but these students think they are special; I don't mean them, surely. I don't mind the tech; the tech is not a problem for me. But I feel that my campus should restrict online comp classes only for students who have already demonstrated their writing skills by earning at least a C in other classes. Otherwise, it is just taking money away from students who have no chance to succeed in the class. If I didn't really need the money (I am an adjunct), I wouldn't teach it. It just smells too unethical for my taste.

    Zen is "infinite respect for all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility for all things future."--Huston Smith's Zen Master

    by Ree Zen on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 09:02:13 AM PDT

    •  As a student I know that people think online (13+ / 0-)

      means easier classes. The opposite is almost always true. If I was already very skilled and knowledgeable on a subject then I have found some online classes to take up less of my time and I am able to earn a good grade. The thing is though, online requires the student to be very self-disciplined. The student is a lax studier can at least pick up some information if they show up to lecture, and they will get assignments there as well. With online they have to take the initiative to study, and they have to make sure they keep up with assignments and due dates.

      If nothing else they should ban all freshman from online courses.

      •  I was with you until the last sentence. (7+ / 0-)

        There are certainly freshmen who can handle such courses, and I dislike putting administrative obstacles in the way of good students.

      •  I totally disagree with you about banning freshmen (7+ / 0-)

        My son just completed an online Anthropology class. He was a senior in high school and got over 100% in the class.

        Online learning is not for everyone. But it is a wonderful gift for people with limited time during the day. My son was taking a full load in high school and HATED his AP classes. They were miserable experiences and I am devastated that he will never have to take History in college because he passed the AP tests.

        If people blow their chance then they blow it. But students agree to the coursework as assigned when they take the class, age shouldn't make a difference.

        "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

        by voracious on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 12:44:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand the disagreement (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          slowbutsure, Oh Mary Oh

          But I don't think it would be a big departure from how universities already operate with freshman. A freshman university student is under many different rules and restrictions than anyone else because they are at high-risk of failure.

          That said, I took a lot of online courses my freshman year and it was great. I saved a lot of time being able to avoid lectures.

          •  I hear you about the special nature of (4+ / 0-)

            the first year of college. At my institution, the retention rate of freshmen is a huge issue. So many are not prepared for being in college. Ideally, the best freshman experience would be very hands-on in most, if not all, courses. That doesn't mean that online courses don't have a role to play, but freshmen need to learn how to be students and any online course they take probably need some support system to help them learn to succeed at online learning.

            One thing that is important to know is that not all lectures are things to be "avoided" - some lecturers do an amazing job in a large format class. Just like anything, some people are good at that and others aren't. The lecture itself isn't the issue. People will happily sit on their butts for hours in non-interactive situations that entertain (tv, movies); lectures can actually engage someone at that level.

          •  This is not always true: (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM, slowbutsure, Elizaveta
            A freshman university student is under many different rules and restrictions than anyone [...]
            •  Perhaps (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FloridaSNMOM, slowbutsure

              but I think that generally most universities require things like on-campus living because it has been shown to lower the failing and dropout rate amongst the highest-risk group.

              •  For most of my career my university had almost no (0+ / 0-)

                on-campus housing, and what little it had was almost exclusively reserved for foreign students and athletes.  At the other extreme, there are residential colleges where the great majority of students live on campus, including seniors.

                However, when I replied to your previous comment, I was assuming that you were talking about academic rules and regulations.

          •  Pardon? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kurt

            I took a 400-level course as a freshman, and earned an A.

            My kids took sophomore- and junior-level courses as freshmen.

            Now, had you said "typical freshman," I might have agreed with you; however, when a freshman has shown that they are capable of college-level work (say, with multiple AP scores of 3 or higher, or ACT/SAT scores in the 90% percentile or higher), I say let them go for it.

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 04:35:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  All I know is my wife worked her ass off (6+ / 0-)

        and showed incredible discipline. During her semesters, 4 hours per night were typical for her. It's been brutal on the family, but we've supported her. It's been even harder on her, as I travel occasionally for my work and she works full time in a demanding job that requires at least 50 hours a week from her. This last semester, she even coached a girls' softball team. Bad idea, as she ran herself into exhaustion. (She did not listen to the advice of her older -- I mean wiser -- husband!)

        Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

        by pajoly on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 12:48:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm also an adjunct (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder

      English Comp & Literature. I teach several classes at several different colleges and make an OK living doing it (easy to do here in NJ).

      I also teach the research paper course (English II at my colleges). They've offered to train me so I can teach this course online, but I've turned those offers down. I don't see how this type of course can be taught without that one on one personal connection.

      Here in NJ, the English II research paper is usually a literary research paper. I need the in class lecture time to teach the literature & the literary terms and techniques my students will need to know, so they can write an effective literary research paper.

      I can only speak for myself. Kudos to you for being able to do this online. I couldn't do it!

      A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

      by METAL TREK on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:16:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From a "state-located" comm. college in KY (12+ / 0-)

    This diary presents the absolute downfall of college education in the US.
    I teach at a "state-located" community college in Louisville, where the name of the game is filling our diminished coffers, without regard for the educational experience of our students.  Who cares if the classes are rinky-dink?  Nobody.

    Online classes are a sham and a shame.

  •  Programming in my sweats (16+ / 0-)

    The danger is that terrible moment when you realize that you are in fact living in your pajamas.  When the thin veil that separates pajama clothes from life clothes has become too thin, and the dark other world of work has entered into the waking realm, and you are doomed.

    But until then, it's all good.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 09:23:19 AM PDT

    •  Don't you know it (10+ / 0-)

      "I hear the train a comin'
      It's rolling round the bend
      And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when"

      “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

      by vickijean on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 10:27:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I had a job interview w/ an "in my underwear" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, FloridaSNMOM

      loon. That is, I was an admin assistant in a med center and I interviewed people for an open filing/back office position that leads to a more advanced, better paying receptionist and office position.

      I had one loon who said she "did her work" at some gas station (!) "in her underwear." Granted, it was in the summer, and in a hotter part of the county, but uh not an appropriate thing to share, right. So I gave the poor woman a chance to recover from the bad share by saying, "oh you mean your job is so easy you could do it in your underwear?" "Oh, no, I do it in my underwear!"

      Wow. Anyhow, she was not offered the position. I felt sorry for her, as she did not seem to be all there. My boss said he was glad I interviewed her instead of him, the staff all got as much a laugh out of it as I did. Sadly, I think she likely needed some kind of services, but I was going to be the one to make the call for her.

      I'm sharing this item as the diary headline reminded me of this. I don't think all of us here are thinking of working like that woman, though it sounds similar, it's not, heh.

      •  should read: "but I wasn't going to be the one to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jessical, FloridaSNMOM

        make the call for her." Correction at the end of the 3d paragraph.

      •  heh (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM

        I'm pretty sure at least a few of the folks working shops here on Cap Hill (Seattle) are going to work in some version of underwear.  They are in their 20s and work in hipster joints and they look better in it than I do in a pantsuit (which is not saying much, a bag of cheetos looks better than I do in a pantsuit).  

        The bed 4 feet from literally a wall of computers, my oscilloscope and meters and other kit, fronted by the chair o'doom...I think I am on the way to not all there, but hopefully I will have all the gibber out before the first or second or third interview.  

        I have enjoyed working at home in many ways.  But I have shared workspace now over on Pike and 12th and am planning to start using it more.  My work is rewarding and well paid but when this contract wraps I will need to give serious thought to interviewing back into a cube farm.  A team I see every day seems like it would be really, really cool.

        Glad I didn't comment directly -- it was good to read people's positive experience with onli ne education.  Did applied math/ecology BS from ages 45 to 47 and there was no way online was going to work for me.  Lab classes just don't work that way and math is a difficult love for me -- I need to ask questions and figure things out and talk in person about problems worked.  Lots of use of online resources, turn in bins, grading...but actual classes with real math teachers and biologists, thanks so much.  An online conversation is not nearly so effective as a meeting with a whiteboard and a decent prof.  Part of the show is standing up in a room of other humans and demonstrating what you have learned.  There is as much chemistry to it, in its way, as any other relationship.  

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 07:12:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You found a nugget there (4+ / 0-)

          To me, learning is often part of a relationship between the teacher and the learner. Both benefit from this exchange. It is harder, for me anyway, to make this happen online

          “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

          by vickijean on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 08:20:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  heh (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psnyder

            a perfect example - "you found a nugget there" is a great bit of feedback for a rambling student, but kind of makes me growl in a more discursive mode :}

            There are so many cues about how we approach problems which are offered nonverbally...or verbally, as noise we filter out when writing it out on a forum.  I think that online students must meet a much narrower rubric regardless of the teacher's intent, and are offered a smaller experience in pretty much every way.  The afternoon where a teacher takes an extra couple of hours to introduce the ways vector spaces lead to fields, which can change your whole understanding of math...or the field trip to Mt. St. Helens where you spend a day with a scientist who has spent a 30 year career there, from blast zone to varied ecosystem...to having someone correct your French in person....online seems downright evil in comparison.  It worked very well as a supplement -- I noted that classes with automated submission systems spent a lot less time on flakiness and begging.  Anyway, no nuggets here...but it was very interesting to me to see the comments which praised online learning, if only because it seems (to me) fairly vile and reductionist in a bad way.

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:11:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  thank you, I think (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jessical, psnyder

              But to give an example of what I think you are saying: First summer term I taught a class on Severe/Multiple Disabilities. When it was taught live,  we would take a visit to Colton's house. The students got to meet a child with cerebral palsy and significant cognitive disabilities. They got to see what a house with universal design looked like, to talk on a personal level with his mom,  to see him interact with his siblings. We still feature Colton in video.  We have a discussion board activity where the class interacts with his mom.  We have a live (synchronous) meeting with his mom.  It is not the same.

              “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

              by vickijean on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:55:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  exactly (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                psnyder

                not at all the same, or even close.  The students would also get to see you, their teacher, handling the situation and making many small choices about effective and right action in circumstances which might be -- to the student -- very new.  

                On the other hand a friend recently stopped teaching English because she didn't want to do online classes.  I get, entirely, where she is coming from -- but am also sorry to see such a talented teacher bail on the profession.  

                ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

                by jessical on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 10:40:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  what invariably happened after these visits (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jessical, Ree Zen

                  Was that a student would pull me to the side, sometimes in tears, and thank me for the visit. They would say they had always been a little afraid of people with severe disabilities, but now they saw he was just a kid. Can't duplicate that online

                  “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

                  by vickijean on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 11:16:28 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I've taught hybrid courses (16+ / 0-)

    A lot of online activity, with a three-hour lecture once a week. Class size capped at 200. I'd say 60% just ignore all the online stuff until a week before the final when  I remind them AS I DO EVERY WEEK that it's 25 % of their grade. Very frustrating.

    I don't any more because the program director for the set of courses this was in was a martinet, but I really don't like teaching this way. Fortunately, I'm old enough that I can retire before online teaching becomes compulsory (I don't plan to retire any time soon, however).

    I feel your pain, vickijean.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 09:54:16 AM PDT

    •  200 is insane. So are three-hour lectures, (9+ / 0-)

      come to think of it.  (Actually, I can think of one exception to that last.  As an undergraduate I took a survey of German literature that was supposed to meet three evenings a week for an hour each.  The instructor said that he was going to teach it in German, and it would take most of us the better part of an hour to ‘get our ears in’, so we would instead meet for three hours one night a week, with a break in the middle.  I think that he was right, and it worked pretty well. But half the class were graduating German majors or had recently returned from a semester abroad in Germany or Austria, and the rest of us were seriously interested, so it wasn’t really a typical group.)

      •  my first year teaching at university level (5+ / 0-)

        our night classes were from 5 to 9:20. Brutal to student and instructor

        “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

        by vickijean on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 06:43:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ye gods and little fishes. (4+ / 0-)

          Ours were 110 minutes, of which ten were supposed to be used for a break. Evening classes met two nights a week.  Four sessions of 50 minutes each would have been more effective, but I suspect that there weren't enough people willing to teach that kind of schedule at night.

          •  When I moved to this university (3+ / 0-)

            our night classes were from 6-9, with built in 30 minute break. Picture special education teachers on a Thursday night trying to stay alert from 6-9!! One funny story- my first year teaching here I had an undergrad night class- education majors from all different majors. I told the class that we could take one 30 minute break or two 15 minute break. I then said that PE majors liked 30 one minute break. I just meant that they were active. They were upset and I got called on the carpet!! I learned to be a bit more circumspect.

            “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

            by vickijean on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 08:24:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hmph. No senses of humor. (3+ / 0-)

              I was fortunate: of the eight department chairmen during my time, all but one would have dealt with such a complaint without even mentioning it to me.  (The exception was a vindictive, petty micro-manager whose greatest concern was apparently ensuring that no blame for anything could possibly attach to him.)

              I feel sorry for those poor special ed teachers; by Thursday evening they must have been bloody well fried!  I’d have gone for two 15-minute breaks, but I wouldn’t have spaced them evenly: I’d have made each session a bit shorter than the previous one.  With 110-minute classes, for instance, I looked for a good breakpoint after about an hour.

  •  yep (5+ / 0-)
    I didn't intend to descend into a whine. Sorry about that. My point of all this is much bigger than this post. Like everything else in this hyper-commercialized world, education has become a commodity. We are losing the art of it. We are losing the science of it. It has become just another highly marketed product. As Thom Hartmann so often reminds us, we have lost the concept of the Commons, a place free from commerce.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 11:44:01 AM PDT

  •  I have taken several online classes across (8+ / 0-)

    many subjects over the last 10 years so I have really watched this type of education grow. I take the classes through our local community college and do it for fun, or along with my high school aged children.

    The most successful teachers and the best classes I have taken have a fairly strict schedule. When there are no late assignments accepted, and the modules close Monday at 8 a.m.  then I am forced to get the work done. This  means I usually spend Sunday all day doing a week's worth of work but that is a great way for me to learn and it works for me. Many teachers have a quiz on their syllabus that ensures the students read and understand the course requirements and this removes any excuses later when the answer can be, this was covered in the syllabus and you read it because you took the quiz.

    The best class I took was a US History class that did not require a textbook. We used primary documents and online textbooks available for free on the internet. The instructor had spent a lot of time building this class and it showed. The video lectures were from many different sources including ivy league schools. No tests or quizzes, we were required to answer 20 questions on the material each week and cite where we found the answers and there were 4 primary document analysis papers (I'm 40 years old and those assignments kicked my ass). But I learned more from that class than any other class I have taken.

    For me online learning is perfect. My oldest child prefers classrooms and lectures so obviously this medium isn't for everyone. But I appreciate the teachers who take the time to build the modules and make that happen for those of us who want to learn but don't have time to go to classes.

    "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

    by voracious on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 11:51:35 AM PDT

  •  Online classes have been (5+ / 0-)

    beneficial for my daughter, allowing her to better schedule work and time for her other activities. She had a quarter or to at the local cc when she was on campus for an hour for a class and then gone again. Online made more sense and saved us on gas money.

    She says that the online classes she's taken so far have been more work--lots more writing--and that the deadlines are strict. She still appreciates having face-to-face time with the instructor and other students--and you can't get around meeting for science labs.

    School is a part-time thing for her right now, not her whole life, so hybridizing her learning makes sense.

    But I understand the whining. You really have to be self-directed on a higher level than the average student to stick with the program and complete the class--more importantly, to make the most of the information and the instructor's time to actually learn something rather than doing the minimum so you can check off a requirement for graduation.

  •  One week ago today (12+ / 0-)

    my wife filed her last participation posts and her last essay. It has been 5 long years, with the last 3 entirely online. She works full time and we have kids, as in 4 when my girls from a previous marriage are here (40% of the time).

    She worked her tail off; far more than I ever did on campus. She grew far more than I did then as well. Her writing skills went from average American (which I contend is poor) to excellent (instructor grade quality). In every group assignment though, she encountered lackadaisical and poorly prepared students. She though has gained immense knowledge she's truly learned and is able to apply daily.

    What's more, the class content for her has been superior online than she ever experienced on campus (she changed majors, starting over).

    In the end, online education is just like in person education: you get what you put in to it. I think it is the commitment of both the school and the student, just as this is true in 'face to face' college. She had engaged professors who were thrilled to be teaching such a committed and serious student. She had a few bad teachers, and encountered many coasting students.

    I say that with one major caveat: the online system is ripe for abuse by unscrupulous companies looking to defraud the taxpayer and culling from ignorant students their loan money. It's a caveat emptor world in education more than ever before, courtesy of the neo liberals and the Right -- both champions for profit without morality.

    Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 12:43:02 PM PDT

  •  I took all of my generals online (5+ / 0-)

    for college. The only big complaint I had was the odd way they scheduled the courses. This was a school that catered mostly to older students, people with kids, jobs, lives, etc looking to finally be able to go to school. So high school was, for a lot of us a long way away, and some things had changed in the intervening years. Some students had basic computing as their LAST class before graduation, this was a course that was supposed to teach students who weren't used to computers about how to use office during their courses. What use was it scheduled last for those that needed it? (I was doubly glad I took this mandatory course online, I would have been bored out of my mind in a physical class room, being much more computer savvy then they were assuming I was.)

    Also citations were a problem for me. When I took comp in high school we were all doing foot notes. When I went to college everything was supposed to be in APA format. I had no clue what that was. I couldn't find a 'style guide' in any book store anywhere (even the local brick and mortar colleges were sold out, as was Amazon). I could order it, but it would have gotten there WAY after my first paper was due. Another classmate took pity on me and sent me to Son of Citation Machine. By the time I had comp as a college course, it was several semesters later and I'd figured it out on my own.

    Taking my courses online meant I had more time to focus on school work because I was a public transportation user. When I started taking my core classes on campus, I had to leave the house at 5am to catch the first bus and get across town by 8. Coming home was worse, because traffic was a lot worse at 3 in the afternoon. Then many days I had to go to work after, and didn't get home until 10 or 11 pm, and had to get up a 4am and do it again. I did a lot of my chapter reading on the bus, but still, The generals were a lot easier on my family time wise. I was still working full time, but I could fit school work around work and family time much easier without spending 6-8 hours a day on the bus.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 01:00:47 PM PDT

    •  On the subject of style guides for citations... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, matching mole

      I've found them to be completely useless.  At least in the sciences, seems like every journal has its own format, which varies just ever so slightly from all the others.  The better ones often have LeTeX formatting files, anyways, which take care of some of the formatting.

      •  Yes if you are writing a manuscript for a journal (0+ / 0-)

        in the sciences they are all slightly different.   In a class generally I wouldn't care about minutiae (e.g. is the journal title in bold or italics or both or neither) as long as the student was consistent.  We do provide basic guidelines for science citations as most students have been taught very different styles and we want them to avoid some common errors.  So we give them examples and say things like: don't use footnotes, don't use direct quotations, cite by author's name and date of publication in the text, and so on.

        Even with this information provided it is amazing how many students make major errors.

        "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge without hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

        by matching mole on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 01:00:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How the college got in my pajamas.. (9+ / 0-)

    I'll never know. (H/t...Groucho Marx)

    "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

    by Spider Stumbled on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 01:47:53 PM PDT

  •  Love online courses (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, kurt, annetteboardman

    For the past, I've taken a great deal of online college courses and had a ball. The work was hard but I became a much better and more focused student. Discipline and enthusiasm are the keys to success in this. You have to put in the work or else. The best ones I had so far required the students to interact with each other in forums. The worst ones didn't have a clear path for students to comprehend the material. It was as if the teachers wanted the students to get frustrated and fail. So far, I've maintained an A average.

    My only two complaints are that I wish the software a lot of schools were better. Moodle is complete junk. Also, I wish more use developed and use interactive textbooks than PDF's of offline materials. I like what Wolfram is doing with CDF's.

    I'm thinking of learning and developing skills to be an online humanities professor.

  •  The more things change, the more they are the same (3+ / 0-)

    Before the Internet, there was this thing known as correspondence courses: one would receive one set of lessons & assignments by USPS mail, do the work, then send them back by USPS mail for a grade & the next set of lessons.

    A high school teacher I knew looked into one of these programs. (It was an investigation not for the faint-hearted: asking for information led to an encounter with a high-pressure salesman who repeatedly tried to sell him programs to help him get a GED, until the teacher finally showed the salesman his diploma for his Master's degree.) He found that the completion rate was somewhere around 20-25%.

    I agree it is distressing that colleges are now focusing so hard on the bottom line, but obviously executives who can make a difference in quality come with hefty salaries & perks. Or so I am told. /snark

  •  Just think, when the teaching robots come along, (0+ / 0-)

    why, it will be a grand moment, won't it?

    I guess online courses are fine in moderation, and certainly I wouldn't feel too bad about replacing those gigantic 500 person college intro classes with the online option. Still, interpersonal interaction is missed. Online chat is not at all like live interpersonal discussion. I prefer the latter, but when one is just trying to get through things like an uncaring intro class, I suppose I wouldn't mind it there too much. All the other classes, I wouldn't want replaced online. Anyone in my field with an online degree isn't going to get the respect of a live program. When will people learn that b.s. is b.s.?

  •  Some things are taught well online. Some things... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, vickijean

    ...are maybe taught better online. But...

    ...some things can't and shouldn't be taught online.

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 06:47:36 PM PDT

  •  Online courses take a lot of work. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vickijean, kurt, FloridaSNMOM

    I think professors have to put more time into online courses because things have to be spelled out more than in the regular classroom. I also agree with other posters that a student must be disciplined and a good writer otherwise they will have problems with online courses.

    I finished my degree online through one of my large state universities. I had great teachers as well as a wonderful experience but I put everything into my courses to earn high grades. It's not for everyone particularly young students who might miss out on the campus experience...

  •  Seminary on line (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM

    A friend recently completed her seminary education on-line.  she already had a BA in education and also an MA in curriculum development. I would have thought that on-line seminary would leave out the personal interaction that seems so necessary for people wanting to become pastors, but she said that there was plenty of on-line discussion, so apparently the courses were set up so others could see what each person was contributing.  In addition, these students had a couple of on-campus mini-sememsters each school year, so they got to see each other in person.

  •  Self paced education (0+ / 0-)

    On-line education didn't exist when I was in college, but back then, for certain classes, self-paced courses did.

    Doing well in them took a certain kind of discipline.  I did first year calculus and programming this way.  I think for most people, though, it would be very hard to learn the material in that loose a framework.

    I've looked at the rise of on-line degree programs with dismay.  To learn a subject or two that way is fine.  But to get the level of interaction needed in a difficult subject like writing, as you're currently teaching, strikes me as hard for you as an instructor, and unlikely to work for many if not most students.

    This is mostly economics driving teaching, and not in the interest of most would-be students.  I certainly don't think it bodes well very their instructors.

    To be on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is to be on the right side of history.

    by mbayrob on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 09:15:13 PM PDT

  •  The reason I loved college so much was because (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vickijean, Cassandra Waites

    of the research, the reflection, the reading, the lectures, and discussions.

    You are not the only one and these are genuine losses in a Disposable Fast Food Culture that has replaced America.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:56:10 AM PDT

  •  It's refreshing (0+ / 0-)

    to see an academic admit this.  "I deserve the grade I paid for"  Education today IS a commodity that we buy so we can get a job.  Sadly this translates into unskilled and unemployable graduates everywhere.

    •  Today we are educating the (0+ / 0-)

      wrong people...those with money.

    •  wait a minute (0+ / 0-)

      I did not admit anything other than that this is a common belief among students when they are complaining about their grades

      “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

      by vickijean on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 11:19:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well.... (0+ / 0-)

        " Like everything else in this hyper-commercialized world, education has become a commodity. "

        It's ok.  Call it job security.

        •  I probably should just drop it (0+ / 0-)

          But let me try one more time. My point was that students see education as a commodity, not that I do. I was criticizing the attitude, not saying I agree with it or subscribe to it. Where I hear it expressed is when students are complaining about grades they have earned in my classes. When I first started teaching, most complaints were about Ds and Fs. Complaints now are about Cs and even Bs.

          “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need.” Frederick Buechner (born 1926);

          by vickijean on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 01:02:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I also don't agree (0+ / 0-)

            with this but it is reality.  You cant blame the students really.  They easily see what is given value in our society.

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