13 May 2013

And now for a new journey into the unexpected.

Somewhere along the lines of fifteen years ago and perhaps more, perhaps 18 years ago, I was approached at my old university about the possibilities of doing an online course.

Online education was in its infancy, at least at major universities (I'm not saying there weren't early adopters, only that there weren't many). Options were extremely limited -- no videos, very little ready-made content from publishers, and a fairly basic chat functionality.

I said no.

The technology was too primitive, and I wasn't sure how to bring a real course to students with such tools. In fact, it was more or less a correspondence course that exchanged email (and file upload and storage) for snail mail.

Things change. I am responsible for helping people teach online as well as being an online teacher myself these days, and of course the tools have changed significantly. Courses are very full featured and can be very rigorous (although just as in traditional classrooms, rigor is not always offered nor sought out). I am still not sure online education is a substitute for traditional education (caveat: studies do show that objective measurements of content learning is comparable in online and traditional classes, but I'm not talking about objective measurements...I'm talking about the co-curricular aspects of a course and college itself), but I am not going to deny that it has opened up possibilities for non-traditional students that were hard to imagine in the years prior to online.

All this as prelude to the fact that for the first time ever I will be attempting to teach a composition course online. I know I'm not the first to teach composition online, but it will be my first time, and therefore, I'm busy with pacing, assignment sequence, and the wonderful logistics of getting students to peer review using the horrible tools Blackboard provides.

I will most likely be posting updates as time goes on this summer.

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