More work?

After reading St. Germain’s pitfalls #3 and #5, I’m left with the same concern. It seems that with each clever teaching innovation comes more work. Being a sage on the stage is comfortable and efficient. I know what I know, I trust the sources of my information, and if I share this information, I know the students are learning good stuff. I don’t know everything there is to know about the subjects I teach, and I definitely don’t have time to research and evaluate all of the web resources that are available on the subjects I teach. I know many teachers just say, “Don’t trust Wikipedia.” and leave it at that. It’s not that simple (nor is Wikipedia a completely unreliable source of information). I give students guidelines for evaluating the quality of websites (though I would love to read through other instructor’s pointers on this…); nevertheless, I always have students citing blogs (Ha!), personal websites, and other non-peer reviewed sources of information.  My approach to this problem is a combination of a) letting students know if they are using incorrect information (if I know they are, which I can’t always know) and b) red-flagging the obviously unreliable sources, regardless of whether the information they provided was correct or not. Many websites and lots of “facts” fall through the cracks of this approach, but, as I said, I don’t have time to do much more.

Student-to-student learning is another time sink that I have not yet figured out how to manage. I used to have students critique each other’s work, but I quickly realized that I was doubling or even tripling my workload in the process. Instead of grading one document, now I was grading the original document and two or three critiques. I addition, I had to come back to the student author and let him or her know which critiques (even which points within each critique) were valuable and which were not. This is not to say that I haven’t seen excellent student-to-student and, for that matter, student-to-teacher information sharing. However, this knowledge sharing has been almost exclusively in fairly open and unstructured discussions and focused on life experiences, both work experiences and regional living experiences.  The online student body is incredibly diverse and rich with experience and knowledge, and I definitely try to tap into this resource in my online courses. The on-campus student body, for the most part, lacks this experience and depth.

I hate to be so bah-humbug about it all. I do want these ideas to work. Perhaps I just haven’t found the right approach. Hopefully, within our little group we can generate some effective and efficient ideas for redesigning the online classroom.

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3 Responses to More work?

  1. Kathy Becker-Blease says:

    I have some of the same concerns.

    Online content has a way of being removed, unavailable, etc., so even if I find good resources one term, I don’t have time to check all of the links the next term.

    I’d like to see how classes of 200+ manage student-to-student learning online in an efficient way. I know there are tools like Piazza to help students do this, but with hundreds of first year students, I foresee time-consuming problems with this.

  2. bovbjerv says:

    As a frequent Wikipedia user, I appreciate your pointing out that helping students decipher the various sources of information is not as simple as “trust these sources and don’t trust these”–particularly since in my field we spend a lot of time pointing out the flaws of even the most trusted sources of peer-reviewed results.

  3. Kelly V. says:

    The fear of an increase in workload for online/hybrid courses seems to be one of the most common concerns/complaints. Since this is my first experience being associated with a hybrid course, I don’t yet have a sense of how the workload compares to that of a ground-school-only course. Hearing about workload woes here and elsewhere has me a little worried. I’m looking forward to learning about how people find ways to make course management more efficient. I’m also interested to know if there are any generic resources for evaluating website info quality – probably not.

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