Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Quick! Describe an Online Student
I’m thinking that the future belongs not to either model alone, but to the folks who best figure out how to harness the best of each. Students are already doing that. Maybe we should, too.
Oh, God, no. PLEASE, no, no, no.
You are making a mistake if you think hybrid students are hybrid by choice. Most want all one or the other. Take another look at your data. How many of those hybrid students have the opportunity to complete their degrees entirely online?
I'm one of those hybrid students you're talking about. I'm a 45-year-old single mom. I have one part-time job outside of the house 20 hours a week, do another 20 hours a week of online transcription at home, AND take at least 12 credit hours of coursework each semester, 6-9 credits on campus, the rest online.
I want to take ALL of my courses online, but there isn't a single degree at my campus offered that way. (And it probably IS impossible without parallel staffs, because there will be those students who don't want online courses.) But driving to campus and sitting through a lecture that's basically a rehash of the text is a complete waste of my time. Not only are online courses more convenient, I learn more/better that way.
So don't go creating hybrid programs just because hybrid students are there. They wouldn't be there if you gave them better options.
We also run a quartet of semesters in parallel, all of which are available for web classes if students are thought to be likely to succeed in that time frame for a particular course. Those are all built into our back end, and have been since last century.
What we do not do is run a semester that overlaps with traditional ones, such as from November to March or March to July. I don't think anything we have (but especially financial aid policies) can deal with that. Some independent study and self-paced and credit-by-exam classes run with essentially arbitrary start dates, but each is tied to a specific traditional semester and those are handled by a specialist on a case-by-case basis at present.
Basically, there are vendors out there that sell pre-packaged "courses" and some sort of online environment to take them in, and schools tend to buy some sort of package and use it as credit recovery with students having a period where they sit in a computer lab and click through it on their own. Generally, these consist of some videos of people talking about the topic, some vaguely interactive slides, and some multiple choice or type-in-the-answer tests that I'd be embarrassed to give in an actual class because they test the kinds of low-level memorization things easily looked up rather than any comprehension of the topic (I've mostly seen the ones for science and math, maybe they are better in other areas, but I'm not holding my breath). I've been the lab babysitter "teacher" for these excrescences in two different districts (who used different vendors) now, and I have not developed very kind opinions to the level of learning involved.
I'm wondering how students used to these modules deal with "real" online classes with an actual human on the other end, discussion boards/interaction with classmates of some kind, and predetermined due dates for things, which is kind of what I assume from your posts colleges tend to do. Have you seen any issues there?
I, too, think that hybrid (both classes and programs) is the true wave of the future, but I've also observed from teaching hybrid classes that they are vulnerable to many of the same problems as fully-online ones: students are often in denial about how much time, and how much self-discipline, the class will actually take. Highly-disciplined 45-year-old students such as your first commenter may be professors' dream online student (they're certainly mine), but, in my experience, they're by far the minority of students who actually sign up for online (or hybrid) classes.
To Anon @3:50, yes, many college online classes are discussion boards, blogs, interaction with faculty and students.
But, in terms of high school, the issues around remediation include (a) scale--how many people would be needed to work with students? A LOT, and (b) something about figuring out how to make specific modules work...
But, you could enroll students in individual courses here: