Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Online schooling

My masters classes are on line, unlike my last program that was fully in person. I read an article how some masters programs and even some good bachelor programs are beginning to refuse on line courses. I can honestly see why.
I tend to work my tush off no matter what the class. Reading all of the articles, on line discussion and journals. My papers have been about the same on and off line. (Yes, I do know how to formally write a great five paragraph essay.) Still, it is not the same on line as in a classroom. My finding is that most on line students are " checking the block". Their discussions are lame, at best. They do not get to the gist of an argument. In the classroom we were embarrassed if we had not read the materials or knew how to intelligently comment to another student. There was the pressure to have information at the tip of your fingers instead of, "I have until midnight to google and give what I think the professor wants".
Talk about grade inflation.
I am unsure that a student on line gets near what they need from a university course- even a junior college course. University is about trading ideas- not learning a skill.
There are great universities out there- most with very good endowments. It saddens me when people think they are priced out of the market- holpucky!
I am old fashioned. I think everyone should be taught to think on their feet and meet people who disagree with them.
This last class was on technology in the classroom.The conclusion that I made, after reading about 400 pages and reviewing on line articles, was what makes our country the BEST educational system is that we expect people to think in the end. You can have all of the technology in the world- but if you don't know what to DO with it or how to move it forward- you will never be better than the rest. When other countries have good thinkers- they send them to the US to think with the best.
University is NOT about a skill- it is about thinking.


Elena said...

I took a distance learning course back in the 1980s. It was all correspondence then of course, but I was able to finish the course and then pass a national exam and become an Accredited Registered Health Information technician, just as many traditional students who went the more traditional route did. As I remember it was quite rigorous but I did well and it worked well with my life at the time.

My children have taken several online courses and have enjoyed them immensely. I will be blogging about College Plus and those opportunities later this week.

I couldn't find the article you mentioned and you didn't link to it, but I did find this article which came to a different conclusion.

I think different students benefit from different environments. I enjoyed online and traditional settings and excelled at both of them. It depends on the individual student.

Janette said...

Consider the source of you study. The authors are on line providers. They have a vested interest in their idea flying.
Of course mine might have been from universities who want all the money from their graduates.(That is why most universities won't take many transfer classes either).

I think if you are interested in a technical course- like you took- then correspondence or on line is great. If you are looking for discussion- then traditional. Granted, many large universities do not provide discussion- and I feel they suffer in their interpretation of university as well.
On line works a bit better on the graduate level since most of us have been in a traditional setting.

University is an opportunity for professors and students to talk and develop ideas. Jefferson came up with the central lawn- a place for discussion. I think that fine universities- like Steubenville and the Architecture school at Notre Dame (where the conservatives hang out) are good examples.
I have reading about the college that Renee's daughter goes to - much the same design. I know several students who went to university and researched with professors as undergrads. They have enjoyed that experience (and made a few discoveries as well).

At this point I am willing to put in the effort to make my on line a good experience. I am willing to say that my experience, so far, is that very few are willing to put in the same effort. I cannot imagine it being worthwhile for an undergrad. There is not dialogue or exchange with professors or other students. It is a bit sad that check the block is even available- especially at the undergrad 250-400 levels. Maybe if Skype becomes imbedded it would help.
Then, I tend to be an auditory learner. Who seeks real debate to find answers- not just read and give it back.

I am guessing that this may be the only way for some to gain a degree. I read many counts of military going through on line degrees. Mostly I think they are transferring their everyday work into credits. I don't have a problem with that. They are learning from another person and giving the information to a third. The degree might not be as fulfilling in the end- but it is a degree.

I am open to being wrong. I don't know anyone who has done it at the undergard level and that is what the article was about..

Elena said...

I actually met two young people last weekend who achieved their bachelors degrees totally through CLEP and distance learning. One was working, and one was pursuing graduate studies in the fall.

Janette said...

Then your experience is different than mine. SURPRISE!

RAnn said...

The question Elena is whether the fact that those students never stepped in a classroom is a good thing or a bad thing. My alma mater, which is where Renee's daughter goes to school, has entered the distance, online learning business, offering a couple of different majors completely on-line. I'll be the first to admit there is a market for this type of program, and I'll also state that I think it is better than no education at all; however I'm one who believes there can be great value in the overall residential college experience, and that there is certainly value to face-to-face interaction with instructors and other students.

As far as whether on-line programs demand as much academically as classroom-based programs, I think they can; the whole issue is whether they will. At this point most on-line programs are by for-profit schools and those schools, as a whole, have a reputation of wanting to please students and give them the degree for which they paid, rather than for enforcing high academic standards--even those who teach primarily via the classroom.

Elena said...

Don't misunderstand Ruth - I also find value in interaction with fellow students and teachers in some courses. But certainly all classes don't require that or even most classes. And is the "value" really worth today's cost? Especially for an undergrad degree? The answer might be yes or no depending on the course, the instructor and the degree. I just like to see the option out there and available.