Posted by Martino Britt
I took two excellent classes last term. The material was great and required you to be involved. One of my classes required me to complete thirty hours of community service. During that semester, there was inclement weather that forced just about every school in the area to cancel class and other activities so I missed one day of class. I appreciated the fact that our instructor was in touch with us throughout this period and kept us updated with adjustments he had to make to the syllabus. This definitely helped me get through the class.
My other class was an online class. I know a lot of students do not care for online classes—present company included—but, they are very convenient. What made this class really good was the instructor’s willingness to engage the students via the discussion board. The instructor made regular posts and comments throughout the week and she always responded to questions. As a student, I think it is important for instructors to engage and respond to every student inquiry. Taking an online class is not much different than an on-ground class aside from the fact that there is no face-to-face interaction. That is why it is important for instructors to engage the students.
Since I started attending Saint Louis University’s School for Professional Studies in 2009, I have noticed that a lot of schools are placing emphasis on online classes or distance learning. I have mixed opinions about online learning. I know from experience that these classes can be just as effective as their on-ground equivalent. However, I think there is one key thing that instructors must do to make this experience beneficial to their students. They must realize that a lot of adult students have been out of school for years and are quite wary of returning to school. In addition, many of these adult students are returning to school because they are seeking advancement in their career—not because they enjoy school. This poses a great challenge to students and their instructors. In order for this experience to be valuable to students, online instructors need to be as responsive as possible. I am not saying that they need to show favoritism or not hold students accountable, but they must realize that the student body they are dealing with is comprised of students who are as busy, if not more busy, than they are. These students will have lots of questions, and to make this course go smoothly, instructors must be quick to respond. On the other hand, the students who take these online classes need to realize that they must be self-starters and willing to take charge of their own education.
The bottom line is that in order to get the full benefit of any class—online or on-ground—students and instructors need to be accountable and responsive to the needs of one another.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drb62/2474763910/#/