Well, we're a third of the way through the class already. Summer is sure flying by. I'm used to teaching in 10- or 12-week chunks, but 8 is pretty crazy.
And yet, I'm feeling pretty lonely this week when it comes to my online class.
As I look at the curriculum, I wonder if there are just too many short assignments and if the workload from week to week fluctuates too much. When teaching online, consistency from week to week has been the key to success. If students know that every week will involve a reading, a discussion, and an assignment, there should be no problem. Right? This class takes on a different approach than anything I've ever taught online before.
As I elaborated on and tweeked the course shell I was given for the class, I naively reminded myself that anyone who registered for this class should understand that the six hours a week they're not spending inside the classroom should be applied to their own schedule online throughout the week.
I think the class is intuitively laid out. Students are brought through the course item by item, so you'd think they'd just move through the curriculum and not miss a beat. Yet there are so many outstanding assignments, it's hard not to be discouraged. Where are my students? Why aren't they online six hours a week?
How is a student supposed to function within an online class unless they're, well, online. Student's attend class through their participation, and so while the traditional large chunks of time that a shortened, face-to-face class demand (like Tuesday and Thursday morning from 8 AM 'til noon, and no, there is no bathroom break), an online class demands shorter chunks of time with greater frequency of attendance (say, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week--and that's just being online to participate in discussions.)
I've had the entire week to think about this as I also wondered if students my are gauging the point value of this week's assignments with the value of the overall class. As an educator, it's annoying to think that students are cutting corners and not taking in the depth of my knowledge and preparation, which undoubtedly, if taken advantage of, will yield a group of excellent writers ready to tackle any research project, paper, or essay exam that comes their way.
But then I think of my own college days, when I'd look through the syllabus to see how many classes I could cut without being penalized and weigh that against the busy lifestyle of the 21st century college student, who likely works more hours than I did and may possible have kids and other distractions/obstacles or whatever you want to call them interfering with their ability to get everything done.
After all, as a mother of two little kids who is teaching five classes at three different colleges this summer and maintaining two blogs, how can I not relate?
And that's education in the 21st Centruy . . . and week 3 of my 1102 class.