Over the last ten years I have been involved with 30+ online or distance learning courses. Distance or online learning pertains to engaging a course or learning via the use of the Internet through a computer. Online learning can be used as a method to secure knowledge for interest, organization requirement, or to obtain a PhD. Primary schools are using online activities to teach various subjects and assignments. Online learning courses are synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous learning is live learning which takes place at the same time that an instructor is presenting the course. Here the student and teacher are engaged in the process through the use of a microphone, earphone, monitor, computer and video camera. Asynchronous means that the course has a website Internet address or URL and the learner logs on the website to study, engage in a discussion or take a test. The student may engage the course of study 24hours a day 7 days a week.
Internet learning 10 years ago was a developing phenomenon. Course developers presented their courses in synchronous format but the video stream did not match the audio or the video arrived from the Internet in a broken up fashion. Such programs usually fell by the wayside and in the digital marketing course online interim were replaced over the years to the present as workable platforms with minor problems. Such problems are exacerbated by instructors who are lacking in teaching experience and the combination places the potential online learner in a double jeopardy situation whereby he or she stands to lose via poor program or platform development and improper teaching interaction. The teacher sets up the course outside the standards of proper teaching practice and/or lacks the people skills to respond to studdnt problems in an appropriate manner. Let us examine some of the current issues of online programs and the telltales of improper teaching approaches usually found in the course requirements.
Online Delivery Learning Issues
One problem for the program originator and instructor is the usability of various apps during synchronous presentations. To be able to use synchronous platforms the student must have access to his screen tabs to respond to or raise questions, perform exercises or generally work his screen. Applications at times cover the screen or enliven pop-up preventers prohibiting further activity or freezing the screen. In some cases this forces the student to undergo a time consuming login process disrupting the learning process. This problem is a telltale that the synchronous platform is unreliable/ or that there is a mismatch between the instructor program and the student body. Over the last ten years I have come across 4 cases of this mismatch or online learning issue which may lead to major problems especially in cases where the past cognitive learning schema does not fit into new changes not noted in a continuing platform or the assumption made by a new online instructor that the given students in the online class are up to speed with the instructor’s version. In one case the instructor required textbooks to be used prior to the class start time in a fashion where the notion of a coursepack was used as a textbook which was not a textbook. The students believed that thecoursepack as a third choice was a combo textbook. As it turns out, the online provider of courses never noted that this word means supplemental readings chosen by the instructor labeled as a textbook but merely consisting of a few pages of various writings for a few dollars less than the two textbooks. The student in this case paid extra for the course,(thecoursepack was not required) and was behind the first day because the textbooks were not ordered on time.
The Inexperienced Teacher
In today’s teaching market and university need for low price instructors, instructors for courses do not always arrive with teaching credentials. Many are chosen for their experience in a given field or expert status. Universities apparently do not want to spend the time to vet potentially bad teachers especially experts capable of providing some dollars to the bottom line. Such teachers may have been working in a field with very little human contact and as such have very few people skills, or lack any training as to putting a course together. L earners do not always recognize this or argue that the instructor must know what he or she is doing since the school has placed them in the present position. There are signs prior to or early in the course whereby the instructor goes against the grain of common teaching practice and/ or the learner will be victimized by the course- the learning process will become a mental toothache in that instructor behavior will egregiously violate acceptable ethics, law and fairness. The signs are as follows:
The instructor requires that an assignment be handed in before the course begins. The instructor should be guided by the fact that the students agreed to engage the course at a given time. Experienced and knowledgeable instructors realize that books, or learning materials may not be available, the learner may be finishing another course, or simply be unavailable. The fundamental point here is that there is a contract between the learner and course/school providing the start and finish date of the course and to require additional time from the learner is unacceptable and problematic for the learner.
Assignments appear overly lengthy and beyond the normal amount of time necessary for the course. If the course requires that the learner has to spend twenty hours a week developing assignments it would be reasonable to conclude that the instructor asks for too much work. The learner has to evaluate the amount of work required. Some instructors actually tally how long a given reading or written assignment will take.
The instructor notes in the syllabus that if the learner makes one mistake including missing a period or crossing a “t” in the last assignment he or she will fail the course. The learner should understand that this is a high risk scenario whereby the costs significantly outweigh the benefits. This is a definite do not enroll sign.