DailyDirt: The Future Of Higher Education Is Online

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Online education is set to revolutionize higher education, making it more affordable, more accessible, more efficient, and more effective. Of course, online education works only if it's done right. It's not enough to simply lecture to students through a computer. Online courses also need to be dynamic and interactive to compensate for the lack of human contact through a physical classroom. Here are some other considerations about online education. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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    Adam Bell (profile), 13 Mar 2013 @ 6:20am

    Face time is a vital component of teaching

    Having taught Mechanical Engineering for about 40 years, always with good student ratings, I believe that face time is an important aspect of the teacher-student classroom relationship. Good teachers gage the students' comprehension of the material being presented or discussed by the look on classroom faces. After you get to know a class, you know which students are good indicators of comprehension. Obviously, you then adjust your examples and explanations to surmount whatever conceptual barriers are slowing or even preventing wide understanding of a tricky bit.

    To give a trivial example of a conceptual leap, young kids, learning the concept of subtraction for the first time, will often answer "5" when presented with "5 - 3 = ?". Misunderstand the symbols, take away the "3" and you're left with "5". Logical to them. What they are missing is that the numbers are not entities themselves, but represent the count of something else. Drawings on the board make that clear.

    In the early 70s I taught two televised distance courses and even though the connection was two-way (I could see the class in a wide-angle view and hear them as well), both they and I found it very unsatisfying. I couldn't focus on any particular student, I couldn't chat with them after class individually, they couldn't reach me off-hours.

    In the 90s I tried running a forum on the web site for two courses I taught. They rarely used it -- they always came to my door to ask their questions. Why? Because they didn't want their peers to know that they were not getting it and they wanted a longer more detailed explanation than a forum would provide. Answering a student's question requires understanding why they don't already know the answer.

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