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Teaching Online Vs. Face-to-Face (Week One Q2)

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Teaching Online Vs. Face-to-Face (Week One Q2)


For me, I see two major differences between
teaching online and teaching in class, and the first is I really can’t see the students.
When I’m teaching in class, I really rely on eye contact and looking at students’ expressions
and whether or not I’m able to convey the material in a way they can understand. If
they are having difficult on an online course, you can’t see students’ eyeballs. So that
makes it much more distant between the student. The other main difference I find is it’s hard
to be spontaneous on a online course. Essentially, the course is in the bag before the term starts.
You can make some changes online in terms of the course material. When your teaching
in the classroom is you can make those changes immediately, you can do it just on the day
of the class. I find that spontaneity is very important for me and it’s one of the things
that I like about teaching. It’s a little more difficult to do that on an online course.
Teaching online is different than teaching in a classroom-based or face-to-face course.
I teach primarily in an asynchronous learning environment and by that I mean that it’s time-shifted,
it is not dependent on a particular meeting at a particular time and place, so I use asynchronous
communication tools to meet with students and carry on discussion. It’s similar to face-to-face
as well in that good teaching is good teaching and so some of the elements I’ve designed
into my online courses would be the kinds of things you would expect in any good teaching
environment. You know, valid and authentic assessment strategies, opportunities for regular
interaction with student-to-student and student-to-instructor and a whole number of support systems. So,
there are a number of similarities, but there are also some clear differences. And I might
just add that online learning is not the poor first-cousin of face-to-face teaching and
learning. It offers some opportunities for students to learn in different ways and add
some affordences that are bound up in some of the technologies and certainly some of
the methods that one can bring to bear and I think those and powerful learning opportunities
for students. Teaching online is greatly different than teaching face-to-face. I’m going to call
up on the four traditions of teaching to answer that question. From my understanding of the
four traditions of teaching, I’ll use Coldrin and Smith’s work. There is the craft tradition,
which is the skill set that we have: asking questions, managing the classroom, that kind
of thing. There’s the moral tradition, which is teaching what you want to be teaching to
students. There’s the artistic, which is knowing when you have students in that pocket where
they are learning. And the science tradition, which is knowing that students are learning
because of how you are teaching or because of what you’ve taught. And when you are in
a face-to-face environment, you can use all four interchangeably and quite easily, but
online, you lose the artistic almost completely and you lost some of the craft as well. When
I’m teaching online, I don’t know necessarily that the students are engaged. I don’t always
know what it is that I’m doing what is most appealing to them, whether it’s discussion
boards, whether it’s using different videos, or a variety of different techniques, or whether
it’s just their personal emails to me. I don’t really know what is effective for each student,
so I’m doing a lot of guesswork. I think that evaporates when you don’t have that body language,
when you can’t really see what it is that you are doing. Plus, teaching online, you
lose a lot of the other techniques that you’re so used to using in the classroom in terms
of the craft. Classroom management – I don’t even know what that looks like online. Maybe
it’s organization. Maybe it’s having things on time. Having to switch from talking to
students in class to having office hours that are not necessarily in person either, always
making sure that you are available on email or even texting or over the phone. So it’s
quite different and I think having taught in person, face-to-face, for a number of years,
I got used to developing those four areas and online it’s a whole new approach and all
four are important and I never want to lose one, so I would say that it’s different through
the craft tradition and immensely different through the artistic. You know what, I don’t
think teaching online is as different from teaching face-to-face as a lot would like
you to believe. Certainly, you have to be much more explicit because you can’t pick
up certain kinds of queuing and what not and you are working with a remote audience and
that’s a little bit tough, especially at first and your time commitment is huge, probably
– well, I don’t want to put any numbers on it; I think it depends on the person – but
some people experience that it costs them a lot more time to teach online than it does
face-to-face. Cost: that’s a bad way to put that – it’s an investment that we make in
it. But, in the actual teaching, it’s not that different. You’re picking up on ques
that students give you, you’re working with them through things, you struggle with ideas
together, you question, you engage, you get excited about things, you get a little tired
of other things – it’s the same kind of cadence, I find that I get with classroom teaching.
That was a really surprise to me. I thought at first it was going to be completely different,
and I think it was at first. It meet my expectations, but as I got more comfortable with it and,
I think as my students who were coming to us became more comfortable with the notion
of being online to begin with, it became to feel more and more natural. I can’t really
say there’s a lot of difference now.

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1 thought on “Teaching Online Vs. Face-to-Face (Week One Q2)”

  1. Robert Gable says:

    I have been teacing on line for a short time. I find that it is a challenge to connect with students and to engage them in an active teaching and learning process. One strategy that seems to be working for me is to have students work with a partner to complete course assignments. And, I try to be as responsive as possible and to clear up any misunderstandings that always seem to arise.

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