Sunday, December 02, 2007

E-Learning Mythbusters #5

This one is sure to tick off a few people. That's really not my intention, but I guess it goes with the territory.

Sure do wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone say how much harder online teachers work than those old-fashioned classroom teachers. This is the question I asked during my keynote at the ETOM conference in October. I didn't give them the opportunity to be on the fence; they couldn't say "well, some of them work harder," or any other weasel options. They had to pick a side with their hand-held clickers. True or False?

Online Faculty Work Harder

Below you see the results of the voting. 60% say yes, it's true.

Of course it's true that some online faculty work harder than the off-line faculty members. It's also true that some of the women work harder than the men, that some of old teachers work harder than the young ones, that some of the short people work harder than the tall ones, and that some of the attractive faculty members work harder than the homely ones.

In other words, it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it.
  • For every one of the really hard working online faculty members I can point out one who looks at online teaching as a break from actually having to do something significant.
  • For every one of the online faculty members who creates and facilitates a highly interactive online course, there is one who does nothing more than create an electronic correspondence course.
  • For every one of the online faculty members who has a great "presence" in their online course, there's another one whose students question whether the person actually exists.
It's absolutely true that some of the very best online instructors work extremely hard at teaching their online classes. It's also true that there are many people who don't fit that definition.

So, here's my take: Highly motivated, highly interactive, and highly engaged faculty work very hard – regardless of the delivery method.

It's also been my experience that the people who work very hard at teaching their online classes also work very hard at the other things they do in life and at work. That's just the way they are, and there's nothing surprising about that.

One closing thought: as I think back on my many years as a student, there is only a handful of faculty members who were really good in the classroom. There were many who were just okay, and there were some who stunk out loud (gee, a bell curve comes to mind.) That small group of outstanding educators consists of the kind of people that you would want to continue learning from - year after year. Those people are few and far between. That "reality" doesn't change and it isn't dependent upon the delivery method.

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