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Why You Shouldn’t Hate Online Classes

There is NO substitute for in-person learning. 

My online class isn’t as good as my in-person class. 

I hope these statements have not made their way out of your face hole.  I mean, you’re basically saying the only place you can be awesome is in a room with a podium and chairs.  Wow. Impressive.

Online courses are like your kids when they go away to college; they really aren’t going away.  Many in higher education feel that now that the pandemic seems to be ending, we’ll just rush back to the classroom and everything will go back to normal.  Yeah, okay, sure. 

Online learning is exploding outside of higher education.  The business sector is leveraging the platform, and before too long higher education may be obsolete if we don’t shed the defeatist narrative. So let’s get rid of the negativity towards online courses and start leveraging them at our own institutions.

Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About Me

As instructors, we’re supposed to be all about students, and online college courses are GREAT for students.  Many students are adults with jobs and families, and the good ol’ 9:30 or 11 a.m. courses do not work in that schedule.  They work for you as an instructor, but that’s your job; it’s not the students’ job! 

I know many in education do not like to think of students as customers, but what else would you call a person who pays for a service?  So, we need to make our service more convenient for our customers if we want to have more of them!  Online courses allow students to participate on THEIR schedule.  It’s not about our schedule any more.

Lightning Rarely Strikes Twice (Or Does It?)

Have you ever given the perfect lecture?  Was the one after it just as perfect?  Are you lying to yourself? I know I’ve never had two perfect back-to-back classes.  Well guess what:  online courses allow you to capture that perfect moment and play it back again and again.  And if it’s not perfect, you can do it again and again (without your students seeing all of your imperfections) until it is just right.  How awesome is that?  Through the use of pre-recorded video, you can get the message you want to convey to students just right, then add captions, and bam!  A perfect educational presentation you can use over and over.

There are so many types of material you can bring in to an online course.  In some cases, you could even make the trusty textbook obsolete (which we all probably should do).  Videos you make, videos from YouTube, research articles, news stories, blogs, case studies, TED talks, cat videos, TikTok videos, Five in Five blog posts/videos, the list goes on and on.  The only limit is your creativity! 

And don’t give me the close-minded excuse that you can’t get student interaction.  Divide them into small groups and give them a project, then set up virtual meetings for them.  I mean, we as educators can get things done virtually, so our students need to be able to do the same.  Just because we are not in a physical classroom does not mean learning can’t occur.  A classroom is not an exclusive magical place.  It’s actually a very stale, boring place with a basic layout that hasn’t changed since the advent of the one-room schoolhouse.  Let that sink in.

Online classes should be something that we in higher education embrace.  In some way, shape, or form, all of our mission statements espouse student learning.  So we need to realize we need to make that happen anywhere and everywhere.  We are the educational experts; let’s make this happen better than anyone else!

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