What’s my #1 Beef with Online Ed?

I’ve built and taught online ed courses for five years.  Like anything else, there are positives as well as negatives.  Through the online environment, students who may have not had a chance to attend a brick-and-mortar course can enroll.  I can “teach” in my pajamas.  It’s a challenge, however, to re-create the classroom atmosphere in the asynchronous environment of the courses I’ve delivered.  I’ve tried.  But that’s not my #1 beef with online ed.

With three clicks, I can get the exact minutes and seconds that a student has been engaged in a course.  I assumed (wrongly!) that if I could check the online engagements of my students, surely the university would be checking on ME.  However, neither university where I teach currently has a program for evaluating exactly how much time we instructors spend on our online courses.

response rate

Which brings me to #1 beef.  The image with this post represents my total course evaluations for the online course that I just finished.  One student filled out the electronic evaluation.  One.  And what do we know about non-required evaluations?  They are typically either super-duper positive or super-duper negative.

Which will that one evaluation be?  I must wait to find out.

So although I logged into my course all the time, participated in discussion boards, wrote paragraphs and paragraphs of feedback, provided video feedback, built a Voxer group so we could “talk” to each other, responded to emails within a couple of hours, gave loads of options for assessment and projects…..you get the idea.

I will be “graded” for this course by one student and one student only.

Universities need to figure out a way to evaluate instructor presence and engagement in online courses that goes beyond student evaluations.   I would welcome such a system.  And if that weeds out lazy instructors who are merely collecting a paycheck?  Even better.  Our students deserve accountability from those who claim to teach them.

Until then, I’ll be evaluating myself and my courses as many ways as I can.   What tools are used to evaluate YOU?

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