We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I took Chemistry from a Nobel winner chemist in a classroom of 250 eager students, many of them hopeful pre-meds. He clearly had been assigned to one undergrad class, but he didn't seem to resent it.
He had fun talking to a class of undergrads, but he talked about whatever he wanted to, whatever was on his mind. He liked to talk about how the planet was running out of oil so there would be no substrate left for medicines and organic chemicals. He said everything you need to know is in the textbook and, if you are confused, try to grab a TA.
Well, the impatient TAs had zero interest in that chore. As a result, many of us formed study groups which were great fun. I wanted to learn Chem so as not to be an ignorant person, and later took Organic for the same reason, despite being a History major. The Chem exams were a bitch. The five in my study group all got As, back before grade inflation. Science grades were curved. The reason our group did so well was partly because one of our study approaches was to create difficult problems for eachother. We'd meet at night in an empty classroom and do everything on the blackboard (remember them?).
A cousin of mine is an academic biophysicist with an impressive list of publications. He had a Nobel Prize winner for one of his doctoral level classes. My cousin's verdict: the Nobel Prize winner was a poor teacher. Even at an advanced level.
The Nobel winner may have been smarter than everyone thinks. The way to learn is in small groups who beat on problems and argue points. Sitting in class being hand fed would not have caused you to assimilate the knowledge.
The downside is when you get a slacker in the group who isn't really interested in doing the work. It sounds like in this chem class, the professor felt the ones who wanted to know would find the solution and not be saddled with those who just wanted to get the credit hours. It's a sink or swim situation but them that survive aren't going to be afraid of the water in the future.
Why should I care whether faculty are "conflicted" over on-line education, and why should I accord their "concerns" and attitude toward on-line education any of my sympathy? The important question would seem to be, Is traditional classroom education more effective than on-line courses, and if not, what's holding things up in making the switch? The faculty survey didn't ask about the relative merits and quality of teaching and learning in these different ways and nothing in the article suggests there's a good answer to that question yet. Sure, we were told many faculty are skeptical about on-line learning, but is there any hard evidence that on-line education is actually inferior to the traditional approach? I'd like to see proof, not read about the "feelings" and fears of academics. These folks should be engaged in some serious self-evaluation of the teaching profession. That would be a much more beneficial use of their effort instead of spending it on "xyz-studies."
buddy ... As to that fish oil thing, I recall that my arents fed my brother and me cod liver oil every day, and I got so I liked the stuff [cod fish not so much]. Nevertheless, my brother, rest his soul, died not long ago, and was well along in one of the senility diseases. I'm still hanging in, but I note that when I'm trying to express something fairly complicated, I get 'the Swiss cheese effect', where suddenly there's a big hole in my formation of my thoughts because I've temporarily lost a word. It helps if I explore the connotations of the word, until I stumble back on it.
Guess I ought to go back on the fish oil. Ewwww...
The student study groups were a good way to learn. I don't see why online students shouldn't be able to find other like-minded students over the Net and accomplish the same thing at a fraction of the price.
I have long thought there are two subjects that should be mandatory in both public school and college, accounting and chemistry---the first so that people do not remain stupid about how to handle their money throughout their lives, and the second so that they don't poison themselves out of ignorance.
This is really interesting in light of the decision a couple of years ago at Indiana University to close down the entire School of Continuing Studies, which was where the vast majority of online courses were administered, regardless of what department the course belonged in. The published assumption at the time of the announcement was that the School of Informatics would take over the admin [I have no clue why they thought that would be a good idea and, in the end it did not happen]. The idea of the departments taking over the online classes that belonged with them made more sense, but mostly that didn't happen either. Given the faculty attitudes about online education discussed in this article, that's not surprising.
As someone who has taught in a classroom and who has written online courses, and taught them for more than 20 years, I can say that online courses are as effective as classroom instruction at teaching. In both places, the student must be engaged and know how to ask a question in order to get clarification.
One point about looking at online education as a way to reduce the cost of an education that some forget is that in looking at the increases in the cost of a college education compared to what it was 30-40 years ago is that administrative costs have increased much more than costs of instruction.
I am not against online instruction. My point is that a much quicker way to reduce the cost of a college education is to return to administrative staffing levels of 30-40 years ago.