I have been teaching online classes full time for more than six years now. I taught a lot of different courses, with various Institutions, most of them around the topic of Intercultural studies. I have also developed a handful of courses and got to teach them multiple times. Teaching the course you developed is a unique experience in itself, seeing how students respond to your class, to the content, the workload and overall structure of the class.
When you teach online, you basically are able to teach all year long, and that is what I have done for the past six years. The only break I have is three weeks in July. Every day, every weekend, every month, eleven months out of the year. I had thousands of students in my classes from around the world and yet every new class I teach brings with it new perspectives and insights. I want to share with you some of these insights and some things I have learned from teaching online. These thoughts are in no particular order, just the one that came to mind during a very long flight (what else is there to do during long flights):
I am a firm believer that everyone should consider taking online classes but my experience for the past few years showed me that some students don’t have what it takes to succeed in an online environment.
I had a phone conversation a while back with a very concerned student. They called me before the class even started. It was only a few minutes after I sent my preliminary announcement to the class letting them know important things about the course. The class was about to begin and I usually send out an email explaining my expectations for the course. This particular student was concerned because they didn’t understand anything in my announcement, it was as if I wrote it in a foreign language. I tried to explain, to the best of my ability everything I said in that announcement but the student stopped me and said: “I don’t even know what copy/paste means”. At that point, I said: “well, then you should not worry about plagiarism”. They didn’t laugh, which made me understand our predicament even more. I instructed the student to consider dropping the class and taking an orientation course.
Age is irrelevant in online learning and not a deciding factor. I had a student who was 80 years old (I only know this because they disclosed it) and he was one of my most active online students. Just because you can take an online course, doesn’t mean you should.
Let me help you figure out if online learning is for you. Answer these simple questions for yourself:
- Do you have one hour a day (minimum) to dedicate to your education?
If not, you should be ashamed of yourself. In all seriousness, imagine for a second who you could become if you invest one hour every day to learning something new.
- Do you own and operate a personal computer?
Do you know what copy/paste means? This is serious, a good number of online students disclose that they don’t have either access to the internet or a personal computer. Go figure.
- Are you a self-starter, self-motivator, and self-supporter?
Are you able to pick yourself up? If not, maybe you should take an online class on becoming a self-starter.
- Are you interested in becoming a life-long learner?
Different than the traditional classroom, in an online class you are the student and sometimes the professor, you teach yourself how to learn and practice the skill over and over again.
If you answered no to any of these questions, you can still take an online class, but I think you are going to struggle to succeed in an online environment.
Alin Vrancila, PhD Candidate
Professors Intercultural Studies | Moody Distance Learning
Educational Researchers at ReadyForOnline
You can contact Alin by email: firstname.lastname@example.org