What Is Different about Teaching Online?
though the online environment is fundamentally different from a
traditional on-the-ground classroom, the role of the teacher remains
the same, regardless of the educational model we subscribe to:
facilitate the students' learning process, to provide a context for
transforming information into knowledge, and to create a learning
Transforming a course to an online format may
require more than simply transferring what you are doing in the
classroom onto the Web, especially if your class is teacher-centered.
Many teacher-centered courses follow a lecture model: the teacher
organizes learning material, transmits it to the students via lecture
and in a linear format, supports learning in class via discussion, and
provides activities to individuals and groups of students to extend the
learning. The online environment lends itself more to a
student-centered approach where the teacher’s role is more like a
coach who facilitates the students’ learning. As the online
instructor, you will need to decide how you construct your students'
Let's review where teaching online may differ most from a traditional lecture course:
Preparation and planning
- course organization, learning objectives, rules of the road, course materials must be resolved before the course starts
- Web pages
- discussion boards
- chat rooms
- streaming audio and video
a face-to-face class, a teacher has physical presence (voice, body
language, expressions, gestures, intonation) and can rely on visual
cues for feedback
- online, it is mostly written word
- in a traditional approach, a teacher is an expert/lecturer -- "sage on the stage"
- online, a teacher becomes a facilitator or moderator -- "guide on the side"
- in a traditional classroom -- recipient of knowledge
- online -- participant in the construction of meaning
- in a traditional classroom -- transfer of knowledge to a group of students in a linear mode
-- hypertext environment, individualized pace and sequence, flexibility
and student control, collaboration and cooperation
- online students need to know that their input will be recognized and valued
- online students need to feel a part of the group as a whole
- online students need to feel comfortable helping others to work together for a mutual cause
- most communication on the Web is done by the written word
- This can be a benefit for those students who are shy or who have to gather their thoughts before speaking.
- It can also be a determent to those students who have poor writing skills.
- the weakness of online learning is that most communication is through writing
- strength is the use of reading and writing skills
Adapted from Online Teaching Institute at American River College, developed by Dr. Marsha Leeman-Conley
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