Today's blog is by Rachel Brockway, the marketing and resource development manager for Scottsdale Leadership. She also teaches social media and event marketing courses at Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University and technology courses at Scottsdale Community College.
Brockway currently serves as the chair for the Anne Rita Monahan Foundation for Ovarian Cancer’s Tea for Teal; is a member of the Scottsdale Unified School District Capital Override Oversight Committee; and volunteers with the marketing committee of Girls on the Run of Maricopa County.
I had coffee with Abbie Fink about nine months ago and we had some great discussion around communication, technology and online classes. At the time I was teaching at Grand Canyon University online and she was teaching Arizona State University online. We brainstormed and discussed different ideas and challenges we had encountered while teaching online. One of the reoccurring themes was how do you communicate with the students if they can’t see you. I am a firm believer in the fact that good communication with online education can work with the right tools.
Fast forward a few months later and Abbie asked me to co-teach a class with her at ASU, and I was honored. One because it is well… Abbie …. And second because ASU is my alma mater (Go Sun Devils)!
But perception out there is that online classes are not as hard as a face-to-face (F2F) class, communication is difficult and there is not the chance for a personal connection. I think all three of these perceptions are false.
To do well in an online class you have to be motivated. There is not an instructor telling you to review the weekly lecture or do your “homework.” I think this is the same for a F2F class as well. You have to be motivated to do well in college. Period. Online classes are the same as F2F classes in what you can learn- you will get out of them what you put in.
You can make a personal connection in on online class. Some examples of ways to do this would be providing video, phone and “office” hours and providing immediate and clear feedback. Before our class started Abbie and I got together and recorded an introduction video for our class. We then had the students record (Yes- with video) an introduction video back. Much to my surprise not one of the students (in both sections that we taught) was unable to complete the task. In fact, the majority of the students identified this as one of their favorite ways to communicate and connect with us and each other.
I am not going to claim that there are not challenges to communication that occur with online classes. They do exist. But they also exist in face-to-face settings as well.
Technology, communication and online learning are what you make of them.