From DSC:
To the many people who disregard or think that online learning is “less than” or first thought to such a perspective is, “Have you ever taken or taught an online course before?  And if so, how recently?”  That is, do you know what that experience can be like these days? Below is a story of a “new believer” so to speak.

To be sure, online learning is not for everyone. Many students don’t have the discipline to make it in the online classroom.  But if I were an employer looking to hire someone, I’d definitely want to hire someone who was successful in the online classroom — as they will be the self-starters of the future, folks who will require little hand holding and supervision.


No Back Row — from by Steve Cohen

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Computers and the Internet were supposed to revolutionize education – from pre-K through grad school. And while there have been isolated examples of teaching-learning breakthroughs – think Scholastic’s Read 180, Khan Academy – most of the so-called technological advances I’ve seen are decidedly unimpressive.
Until now.

And what I saw truly surprised me. UNC has created a virtual classroom that is more intimate than 90 percent of the seminars I’ve taught in or taken. That’s because a quarter of every student’s computer screen is a grid of the dozen other students in the class – in close-up! Within minutes of signing into the class – and this particular class was “live” (referred to as synchronous) – I realized that each of us was sitting in a front-row seat. The professor was going to call on each of us. He could also capture and share our computer screen with the other students.

Which meant that all 12 of the students in the class were going to contribute. There was no perusing Facebook, no e-mailing, and no shopping during this 90-minute class. Although it may be hard to believe, there was closer intimacy in this virtual classroom than in most of the dozen-person seminars I’ve experienced in law school. Perhaps it was the close-up of each person’s face in the upper quadrant of the screen. But I got a sense that each student knew that he or she was expected to contribute to the class discussion. And that shared expectation raised the bar for all.

Also see:


Seeing is believing – after reading the essay, No Back Row which describes how a long-time professor of higher-ed  had an ‘aha’ moment when he observed first-hand how an online MBA program actually worked, I also had my own ‘aha’ moment… perhaps one of the key barriers to educators’ resistance to online education is the lack of visualization, in other words, not being able to ‘see’ what an online program actually ‘looks’ like?  Perhaps. Below are some thoughts based upon the essay in which the author acknowledged [after visualizing an online program]  that online learning is a legitimate and viable alternative to face-to-face instruction.

“And I’m now convinced that what Apple’s Mac did for the personal computer, the “MBA@UNC” is about to do for higher education.” (Cohen, 2012)

Making ‘Sense’ of Something New
This seems reasonable to me  – we make sense of new concepts or ideas by comparing to, or drawing upon, what we already know –  so it’s no surprise that those who have not ‘seen’ or experienced online learning find it challenging to see how learning can happen on a computer. It is an abstract concept until one ‘sees’ it.


Addendum on 6/21/12:

  • Conflicted: Faculty and Online Education, 2012 — from by Steve Kolowich
    From DSC:
    My advice to faculty members: Get some training re: how to teach online and give it a try.  Your career will be all the better for it in the long run and new doors will open for you. Conversely, if you only teach F2F, your options will becoming increasingly limited; and you had better hope that you don’t lose your job and have to enter again into the competitive fray of landing a new teaching position.