Apr 20 2012
e-campus versus brick-and-mortar campus
Three of the differences that I perceive between e-campus and brick-and-mortar campus teaching are the testing environments, the more limited ability to offer additional clarifying information informally in e-campus, and the greater need for up-front course development. I wish that the support for developing distance programs was offered to on-campus instructors, as the rich bag of tricks offered by e-campus offers a lot of value to traditional teaching environments as well. Traditional testing is better suited to a brick-and-mortar situation, where the instructor can act as proctor, or answer questions in real time. E-campus has a variety of tools to help prevent academic dishonesty, but these may require more time to arrange and to determine which is most appropriate for the particular situation. I have found that I frequently use the first few minutes of a brick-and-mortar class to explain assignments, clarify expectations, or evaluate student comprehension of previous material. This spontaneity is much more difficult to achieve online, and more work is necessary up-front to ensure that assignments are as clear as possible. Exercises to evaluate student mastery of material need to be built in so they occur frequently enough that changes in course pace can occur before any train wrecks. Finally, having often been just two lectures ahead of my students and presented lab exercises that I proofed that morning, having all of the materials all ready to go weeks in advance will be very different. I’ll be glad to be out of the pressure cooker, but I’m wondering how I will find the loss of flexibility to bend the syllabus a bit to respond to either recent events, a sudden spark of interest in a topic from my students, or other such teachable moments.
(developing online graduate-level vertebrate population ecology)