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A former professor takes issue with a local paper’s argument

that virtual classrooms with unlimited enrollment and little maintenance would assist state universities live within a restricted budget …

Designing interactive online learning modules increases costs for the time of faculty and technological experts. Add in server usage fees and the 24/7 tech support for daily student access and downloading problems. Research has shown that online enrollment should be maximized at 20 students for best student-faculty interaction, far less than the usual concrete classroom.

The time-intensive nature of online interactions add[s] to student and faculty workload and cause[s] problems for students who cannot balance work, family, friends, faith and school. To be successful in online courses requires good reading comprehension and writing skills. Students who do not have these skills drop out and need to re-enroll at a later date, creating more problems for student progression and class enrollments…

This writer overlooks, however, the boots-on-the-ground reality of many online courses: Hundreds of students handled by one professor; the professor so overwhelmed, and so incentivized to pass students, that she doesn’t much care (notice?) whether they’re learning anything; an insultingly low level of intellectual interaction; the system’s inability to determine whether the person who says she’s taking the online class is who she says she is… In short, if you want to make your university one big correspondence course which hands out degrees to the largest possible number of students without making them learn anything or even verify their identity, online’s the way to go.

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One Response to “Online: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

  1. DM Says:

    German colleagues of mine have told me that the EU is considering funding higher e-education in Uzbekistan. Apparently, all the Russian professors are gone, the country has many youth of higher education age, and they have trouble coping with the influx, especially in computer engineering.

    Everybody agrees that e-education is not ideal, but it’s either that or being unable to cope with the influx of students.

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