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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by taf2002 View Post
    Do online courses require the huge amt of reading that brick & mortar colleges do? Are do they tailor classes to the average working adult? I know online courses are convenient, cheaper, & self-paced, but do you actually get a higher education? Is there no value to the classroom experience of professor's lectures & student participation?
    Again, there is a wide range of online classes (and brick and mortar colleges), so there is no one answer to any of your questions. Online programs run by brick and mortar schools usually have the same requirements for online and traditional courses (and charge the same tuition, which is often less than all-online schools charge); whether that is huge or not depends on the course and school. Online courses are convenient in that you don't have to attend class and can do your work whenever during the day; IME, however, there are many more assignments that have to be done in an average week than there are in traditional classrooms, as that is how online courses keep track of students and ensure that they are getting the assignments done. I don't know where people get the idea that online classes are self-paced; if there are any, there can't be many. Every experience I have had with online classes, both as teacher and student, has been that the schedules for online classes are more rigid than traditional classes.

    Some online classes have all reading assignments; others have lectures that are recorded and uploaded. Students in most classes interact on messageboards like this one; many online programs also require students to interact via Skype (which creates all kinds of inconvenience and trouble, let me tell you). When I teach online, it is not unusual for me to have conferences with students on Skype, and I sometimes record video feedback on assignments for the students to watch. I do Live Chats with individuals and groups. I can write notes on a "board" and everything, although that's not something I do a lot. Math professors, OTOH, can do problems on the spot online, just like in a classroom. I actually prefer grading papers that were submitted online; I think I do a much better job that way than I do marking up a printed copy.

    Having said that, a lot of schools, particularly the all-online schools, hire only part-time instructors and pay them dirt, which means that most online instructors are too busy and/or too underpaid (and often too lazy) to put this much effort into it. There are programs that require almost nothing from instructors and almost nothing is what they do. It is much more work to do an online class the right way than it is to do a traditional class, at least for me.

    So again, there is a lot of variation. Things have changed a lot since the early days of online classes; those of us who have put in the effort to do better have gotten better. It isn't the same as the traditional classroom experience, but the traditional classroom experience is not for everyone.
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    Our university has instituted a review process for all online coursework and the tuition is actually higher than for a regular class. Apparently the IT department gets a percentage of the tuition fee to cover their extra work. I find many students do not do well in online classes because they lack the self-discipline to complete the assignments that they would do if in a classroom. The motivated student with good study habits will do fine. There is a big difference in subject matter as well. Our program uses blackboard only for advanced coursework. All accrediting bodies are taking a hard look at online classes. My recent self-study had 3 different standards that dealt specifically with distance delivery.
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    I actually do prefer the traditional class approach, I think I learn best that way. However, I have to consider the time factor.

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    A relative who works at a major uni that is expanding its online offerings tells me that the recent scrutiny has more to do with competition than anything else. In the early days of online, for profits had the advantage as they were able to create the technical infrastructure quickly, and without interference from uni deans and chairs who tend to debate things to death. Now that there are infrastructure templates, the regular unis can expand their programs almost as quickly. Big unis are spending LOTS of lobbying dollars to get the Feds to stop lending to students of the big players.
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    Quote Originally Posted by taf2002 View Post
    Do online courses require the huge amt of reading that brick & mortar colleges do? And do they tailor classes to the average working adult? I know online courses are convenient, cheaper, & self-paced, but do you actually get a higher education? Is there no value to the classroom experience of professor's lectures & student participation?
    My online courses were not self paced. We had required check ins everyday of the week. We also had discussion sections and group work.

    The syllabus was identical to if you took the class in person, so the reading was the same.

    They were not cheaper. Tuition was the same as if I was on campus.

  6. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    Again, there is a wide range of online classes (and brick and mortar colleges), so there is no one answer to any of your questions. Online programs run by brick and mortar schools usually have the same requirements for online and traditional courses (and charge the same tuition, which is often less than all-online schools charge); whether that is huge or not depends on the course and school. Online courses are convenient in that you don't have to attend class and can do your work whenever during the day; IME, however, there are many more assignments that have to be done in an average week than there are in traditional classrooms, as that is how online courses keep track of students and ensure that they are getting the assignments done. I don't know where people get the idea that online classes are self-paced; if there are any, there can't be many. Every experience I have had with online classes, both as teacher and student, has been that the schedules for online classes are more rigid than traditional classes.

    Some online classes have all reading assignments; others have lectures that are recorded and uploaded. Students in most classes interact on messageboards like this one; many online programs also require students to interact via Skype (which creates all kinds of inconvenience and trouble, let me tell you). When I teach online, it is not unusual for me to have conferences with students on Skype, and I sometimes record video feedback on assignments for the students to watch. I do Live Chats with individuals and groups. I can write notes on a "board" and everything, although that's not something I do a lot. Math professors, OTOH, can do problems on the spot online, just like in a classroom. I actually prefer grading papers that were submitted online; I think I do a much better job that way than I do marking up a printed copy.

    Having said that, a lot of schools, particularly the all-online schools, hire only part-time instructors and pay them dirt, which means that most online instructors are too busy and/or too underpaid (and often too lazy) to put this much effort into it. There are programs that require almost nothing from instructors and almost nothing is what they do. It is much more work to do an online class the right way than it is to do a traditional class, at least for me.

    So again, there is a lot of variation. Things have changed a lot since the early days of online classes; those of us who have put in the effort to do better have gotten better. It isn't the same as the traditional classroom experience, but the traditional classroom experience is not for everyone.
    This is pretty much my experience with online classes (sans Skype meetings). I have a lot of readings and a lot of work. Some of it feels like busy work, to be honest. There are set times when assignments have to be turned in. Also, some of my classes have had timed exams that are pretty much the same as an in-person time exam. The university uses Blackboard for the online program. Some of the professors complain about it but I like it. My program is connected to a brick and mortar university and I'm charged the same tuition as an in-state student. So that's definitely a plus. I miss going to classes sometimes but I also like having more leeway in when I can watch lectures or communicate with other students. For me, doing classes online was the best option. There are no local programs for my field (library and information science). I would have had to travel at least an hour each way to get to the two closest MLIS programs. That wasn't feasible for me.

    You have to be disciplined but at the graduate level, that shouldn't be an issue. It might be for undergrads.
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    There are several teachers in our jurisdiction just completing online M.Ed. degrees through Wilkes University. It's a cohort-based program based on Robert Marzano's "The Art and Science of Teaching." I daresay none of them would complain about a lack of rigor; they have been required to write papers, contribute to online discussions, videotape and reflect upon their own teaching, and do a major portfolio project. I'm really jealous because I would have loved to have been part of this cohort, but I already had a masters and the financial cost, at my age, was just rather silly to consider. This group of teachers rarely meet face-to-face (although they all know each other; we're not a huge school district). This program is so much more relevant to the work they are doing already in their classrooms than anything they would be doing in a fully-resident program. Online itself does not have mean inferior. It's all in the design (and the purpose) of the program.

    As for cost, I looked into an online PhD in education technology through the University of Calgary, and it was considerably higher than the same resident program -- so much so that, as much as I would love to, I just can't justify the cost. *pout*
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    Quote Originally Posted by modern_muslimah View Post
    This is pretty much my experience with online classes (sans Skype meetings). I have a lot of readings and a lot of work. Some of it feels like busy work, to be honest. There are set times when assignments have to be turned in. Also, some of my classes have had timed exams that are pretty much the same as an in-person time exam. The university uses Blackboard for the online program. Some of the professors complain about it but I like it. My program is connected to a brick and mortar university and I'm charged the same tuition as an in-state student. So that's definitely a plus. I miss going to classes sometimes but I also like having more leeway in when I can watch lectures or communicate with other students. For me, doing classes online was the best option. There are no local programs for my field (library and information science). I would have had to travel at least an hour each way to get to the two closest MLIS programs. That wasn't feasible for me.

    You have to be disciplined but at the graduate level, that shouldn't be an issue. It might be for undergrads.
    This. ^

    My online program is through a brick and mortar public university that has done distance education since before the internet. The only self directed/self paced courses I have had are those that would be so on campus as well. Courses required discussion on Blackboard on a regular basis. Some classes had very lively discussion that went on much like it does here without getting off topic quite so often (a course on American religious history had some threads with over 200 responses and a few arguments that required professorial intervention when they got personal). The professors who taught my courses also taught on campus in every case but one. As for reading, my assignments were not articles but books. In most courses, you read at least one full book every two weeks. In summer courses, two books a week. There was a required paper on every book as well as a minimum number of required discussion posts (and off topic ones, short ones that say "I agree with _____" and such did not count). I also had to write a research paper for every course.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Really View Post
    Online itself does not have mean inferior. It's all in the design (and the purpose) of the program.
    Very true. But I have to say, without exception, the online work I've seen has consistently been inferior to in-class work. I'm sure there are several reasons for that, but it does give me pause about the whole online trend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    They are -- too often -- a pimple on the a** of higher education, and they target lower income students & returning vets. Pretty much with the exception of one program in our area that trains A&P mechanics, I don't trust them at all.
    There are some for-profit schools that have a good reputation in their respective industries. The School of Visual Arts in NYC is one of the top ranked art schools in the US, and most people don't even know it's a for-profit. Digipen, in WA State, is very strong in the game design field, and it's also a for-profit. But the good for-profits are in the minority.

    Quote Originally Posted by bek View Post
    I am actually thinking of using an online MBA program, I'm looking around. But trying to go with one that is either with a regular school or West Governor's University which is a non for profit. My job provides some generous education assistance so I'm thinking I should use it...
    A lot of employers today will not hire MBAs unless your program was AACSB accredited. Western Governor's is not AACSB. A list of AACSB accredited schools is here, and some of those, such as UMass Amherst, do offer online MBAs: https://www.aacsb.net/eweb/DynamicPa...4-33768F1DE01D

    Drexel and Thunderbird are both on that list as well, and offer online MBAs.

    Quote Originally Posted by taf2002 View Post
    Do online courses require the huge amt of reading that brick & mortar colleges do? And do they tailor classes to the average working adult? I know online courses are convenient, cheaper, & self-paced, but do you actually get a higher education? Is there no value to the classroom experience of professor's lectures & student participation?
    The online courses I've taught require more reading than in-person classes do. Much more. Likewise, more writing. And to be honest, the quality of student writing in my online classes is much stronger than that of my in-person classes, for the same type of class/student body.

    Online classes are not cheaper. They are at least the same price as an in-person class, and often more expensive. In addition, online classes are not self-paced. My students, for example, have four assignments due per week, due on specific days.
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  11. #51
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    I took several online classes at my regular brick-and-mortar University, either because the in-person version of that class didn't fit into my schedule or it was only being offered online.

    One was an online class on how to teach online classes (and how to use technology in the classroom) for the college of education. I took it during the shortened summer term, and there were just a huge number of assignments due every week - graphic designs, websites we had to make, discussions and live chats we had to take part in by a certain period of time, whole mini-courses we had to create and implement. I hated that class, not because of the work but because we had to use inefficient, free programs that barely worked in most cases and that I doubted we would ever be using in real life (and because I knew how to do most of it already, as I suspect many people my age would). While there wasn't much reading, it was certainly a lot of work.

    I also took an online Shakespeare class, which mostly involved reading a play, watching a movie version of it if a decent version existed, participating in discussions on a discussions board, and writing numerous papers. Pretty much what probably would have happened in class, except the discussion boards were never very lively and I frequently felt I was one of few students who followed directions and actually answered the questions asked and posed new ones in the required format. From posts I've read from teachers here, that sounds pretty typical

    I also took a Women in Environmentalism course, which involved reading several books, doing a couple projects, and writing a whole bunch of papers, as well as reading articles, watching videos, reading written versions of lectures, etc. This one was the only one with no actual deadlines, which surprised me. The other two were very rigorously structured, but this class had no discussion boards (fine by me) and you could submit the work at any point before the end of the term. I wrote my own schedule because not having one made me super nervous.

    I feel that I got a pretty average education in all three courses, and a better one than in some of my in-class classes. Actually, the WIE course was one of my favorites in all of college, but I really loved all the reading materials, and Ellen Swallow became one of my heroes. I'm sure other people have both different and similar stories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rfisher View Post
    Our university has instituted a review process for all online coursework and the tuition is actually higher than for a regular class. Apparently the IT department gets a percentage of the tuition fee to cover their extra work. I find many students do not do well in online classes because they lack the self-discipline to complete the assignments that they would do if in a classroom. The motivated student with good study habits will do fine. There is a big difference in subject matter as well. Our program uses blackboard only for advanced coursework. All accrediting bodies are taking a hard look at online classes. My recent self-study had 3 different standards that dealt specifically with distance delivery.
    You don't do assignments in a classroom though. You do that at home. And that's the problem with traditional universities. You take classes for one semester and then you have to turn in one piece of coursework or take one exam. Unless you're super self-disciplined you will do nothing for months and then do some frantic last minute work.

    Online courses which require you to turn in work regularly throughout the semester are a much better idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
    You don't do assignments in a classroom though. You do that at home. And that's the problem with traditional universities. You take classes for one semester and then you have to turn in one piece of coursework or take one exam. Unless you're super self-disciplined you will do nothing for months and then do some frantic last minute work.

    Online courses which require you to turn in work regularly throughout the semester are a much better idea.
    In the US (where U of P operates), continuous assessment (i.e., multiple assignments, exams, projects turned in throughout the semester) is the standard at universities, not one assignment or exam per semester. I know the European approach is sometimes different, but when I taught at a university in Ireland several years ago, they had switched to continuous assessment.
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    I did two masters degrees online/via correspondence and they were awesome. Exactly the same work as the actual university, and we had in-person proctored exams as well as the same continuous assessments as everyone else. We had to find resources and case studies (which was not that easy for some) and translations, if required. My courses had quite a number of people studying in China (including Chinese), and we met pretty often to chat and talk about things. My courses had videos, Skype chat, text books, handouts, lecture notes etc. We had to submit things via snail mail and online, and also do some videos. I think both degrees were incredibly well taught, well organised and did a good job of forming community.

    The online/correspondence students were not segregated from those attending the university - we all studied together, assignments etc. were all the same, and due at the same time. I don't think either group had an advantage or disadvantage. The university did a great job letting us know that so-and-so would be at a uni in Beijing lecturing, and it would be interesting and relevant if we could make it. I was also able to make some of the corresponding classes at a uni in another state to the uni I was studying with, while I was home.

    The criteria to get in to both degrees was pretty strict though, you had to have a certain GPA in your undergrad (which had to be in specific fields), be working in the field for a certain amount of time, have a supervisor in-country with at least a Masters and be qualified in education, psychology etc, have access to students whose parents would sign consent for them to be used as case studies, be fluent in at least one language other than English, have an independent translator accessible, and be able to attend the exams in person. It wasn't easy at all, but I learnt a lot and would recommend it. I think I deserved my pieces of paper, that's for sure.

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    I did not have a single class in college where our entire grade depended upon our score on one exam or one paper.

    I had a couple classes where the entire grade was made up of <4 exams total, plus maybe a paper. Most of my classes had a large number of assignments, quizzes, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by michiruwater View Post
    I did not have a single class in college where our entire grade depended upon our score on one exam or one paper.

    I had a couple classes where the entire grade was made up of <4 exams total, plus maybe a paper. Most of my classes had a large number of assignments, quizzes, etc.
    For all of my courses, exams were never more than 50% of the final grade.

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    That's how it should be (and how it is, in nearly all cases, from my experience).

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    Quote Originally Posted by rfisher View Post
    Our university has instituted a review process for all online coursework and the tuition is actually higher than for a regular class. Apparently the IT department gets a percentage of the tuition fee to cover their extra work
    Why does the IT department have more work to do? Honest question. I've been doing online classes for about 10 years and I've never even talked to the IT department.

    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    Very true. But I have to say, without exception, the online work I've seen has consistently been inferior to in-class work. I'm sure there are several reasons for that, but it does give me pause about the whole online trend.
    There is only one reason for that, and that is that the instructors are demanding less. There is no reason whatsoever that online work should be of lesser quality.

    There are a LOT of instructors, however, who like teaching online because they are lazy. Lazy instructors put together some half-assed course, post it and then pretty much ignore the online students. I know teachers like that; I've taken online classes from teachers like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by michiruwater View Post
    I took several online classes at my regular brick-and-mortar University, either because the in-person version of that class didn't fit into my schedule or it was only being offered online.
    Which is common in brick-and-mortar schools and increasingly becoming more so as trads demand more flexiblity from schools. When I first started teaching online, the classes were dominated by non-trads, but now they usually run about 2/3 trads.

    Quote Originally Posted by michiruwater View Post
    I also took an online Shakespeare class, which mostly involved reading a play, watching a movie version of it if a decent version existed, participating in discussions on a discussions board, and writing numerous papers. Pretty much what probably would have happened in class, except the discussion boards were never very lively and I frequently felt I was one of few students who followed directions and actually answered the questions asked and posed new ones in the required format. From posts I've read from teachers here, that sounds pretty typical
    Group discussion is one of the things that I find so much harder to do online than in a trad classroom. The students come and go at odd hours, no one knows anyone else (you notice that here, discussions are dominated by "the regulars," people who show up a lot and post a lot and "know" each other--there are reasons for that), and so people are essentially trying to have discussions with total strangers. It requires a lot of work and vigilance to get most online discussions going and keep them going.

    We also emphasize that everyone must be treated with respect. (Imagine how well that would go over here ). There are good reasons for this, but it tends to stifle a lot of discussion, as students are often afraid to express honest opinions or say anything that might be provocative or argue with other students' ideas. If I do it, then the students think I am going to handle all the touchy subjects and they are happy to leave me to it; if I don't do it, no one says anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffisjeff View Post
    In the US (where U of P operates), continuous assessment (i.e., multiple assignments, exams, projects turned in throughout the semester) is the standard at universities, not one assignment or exam per semester. I know the European approach is sometimes different, but when I taught at a university in Ireland several years ago, they had switched to continuous assessment.
    Yes, and we also aren't as lecture oriented. Most classes here include projects of some kind and group work. Those are also much harder to do online, because it can be so difficult for the students to work together, and because it's easy for the slackers to hide.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bek View Post
    I actually do prefer the traditional class approach, I think I learn best that way. However, I have to consider the time factor.
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    FWIW several of my colleagues have taught courses at U of P in the past.

    Their orientation consisted of a half-day workshop that wasn't much more than Powerpoint slides telling them what to expect (most of which turned out to be completely untrue, and not in a good way).

    A considerable proportion of their students had such poor language and/or academic skills that there was no way they should have been admitted to any post-secondary institution. However, the instructors were under tremendous pressure to pass them regardless, so that they would stay in the program and keep paying the tuition $$$$.

    There was almost no support for the instructors in terms of problem solving (e.g. what to do if the online system broke down). And it was not uncommon for instructors to get fed up and quit in the middle of a course, in which case another instructor would be assigned to the course on short notice, regardless of whether they had qualifications in the subject or not.

    I don't know if this is still the case, but for an online school U of P had very little instructional resources/support of its own. E.g. for online research the students were usually told to use the online libraries of other local post-secondary institutions, or public libraries. U of P didn't have any reciprocal arrangements with these libraries - they just told the students to use whatever resources were publicly accessible.

    Also, it was a well known secret that the "enrollment advisors" at U of P were not much more than salespeople who had quotas to fill and would tell students anything just to get them to enroll and shell out the $$$.

    None of my colleagues who worked there would ever teach there again.
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