On-Line Classes

The notion of online classes brings up a point I’ve been wanting to discuss again. I think online classes are a travesty (see earlier post) and a very poor replacement for in-person classes. Having taught two classes on line, I feel like I’ve been prostituting myself πŸ™‚ – because I really need the money… needed a new roof this summer. However, I have found it an interesting process. Personally, I like to work at (a) developing relationships with students, which can’t be done to the same extent on line; (b) encouraging emergent curriculum, personally connected inquiries, curiosity, etc.; and (c) creating real communities of learners, inquirers, knowledge producers, etc. Trying to translate these into an online course is challenging, if not impossible. I use a wiki to try to push students to be “producers of knowledge” in a public forum. I try to leave open the possibility of emergent avenues for exploration, but it’s difficult. I suppose the real key issue comes down to relationship. It’s very difficult to develop “teacher – student” relationships in an online environment. Students really can’t “trust” me, because they have no idea who I am. They can’t really connect to the dimensions of who I am, because so much is communicated by facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and the incredibly complex contexts which change and morph as teacher and students proceed through a course. I feel that relationships of all kinds (personal, social, conceptual, political, et al.) are the crux of teaching. And, here I am teaching on line, a situation that challenges the very foundation of what I deem as the most important part of teaching.

 

About Jeff Bloom

I’m a Researcher with and am on the Advisory Board of the International Bateson Institute and am a professor emeritus with the Department of Teaching & Learning, College of Education, Northern Arizona University.

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