Is this all there is to online undergraduate classes

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Hokiephile, Aug 22, 2011.

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  1. Hokiephile

    Hokiephile New Member

    I'm interested in teaching online in the same field in which I taught for 12 years at B&M institutions. Although I've taken a couple online graduate classes, I thought it might be worthwhile and interesting (and maybe even fun) to take an online undergrad class in my field so I could see what the UG experience is like and have a better grasp on how to conduct such a class.

    I enrolled at the introductory class in my field at a community college. The class started today and the syllabus just became available. There doesn't appear to be any actual class. Every week is just "read chapter X" and "answer X questions at the end of the chapter." There are two tests. There is absolutely nothing else. No forum, no groups, no kind of class participation at all, and no apparent way to meet the others in the class. We aren't even asked to introduce ourselves.

    I don't get it. Is this normal? Is this all undergrad online education is? Seriously? Why not just offer correspondence classes if there's no actual class to participate in? Or is this just a poorly run online program?

    I should just drop the class as merely answering a bunch of questions is not the experience I was hoping to have.
     
  2. TEKMAN

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!


    It is hard to say because depends on individual academic institution. Some schools choose to delivery asynchronous the others choose synchronous. Certain schools require student to use software for practical application, others use discussions and live chat. My undergraduate with Troy University, which I have experienced require reading, discussion, exams, research papers, and certain classes require live chat at least one or two sessions out of 5 sessions.
     
  3. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    I agree, that sounds like a pretty lightweight class. Most online classes I have taken are a much higher workload than their F2F counterparts.
     
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Would you care to name names?
     
  5. lawrenceq

    lawrenceq Member

    I've had two classes similar to yours at FHSU (Jazz & Descriptive Astronomy). The instructor only posted study guides and due dates.

    Also, a co-worker attending the University of Alabama told me a couple of his business classes are run the same way.

    I guess it all depends on the instructor. All of my other classes have been very active.
     
  6. Hokiephile

    Hokiephile New Member

    I wasn't expecting a synchronous class, but I was expecting something intended to develop a little class rapport, like the two grad classes I took from CSUEB. But this is nothing but write a bunch of short answers with no interaction with other students. I don't mind correspondence classes, but if that's all this is going to be, then why a technology fee, etc? Just create correspondence classes with email delivery of documents and assignments, and so forth.

    Those of you who teach UG classes online, is this all you do? (Not to belittle the amount of work required to read and grade all the assignments. I mean "all" as in, is it normal for there to be no attempt to create a class atmosphere?)
     
  7. 03310151

    03310151 Active Member

    That's about it. Not much of a revolution huh?

    DL<F2F (99.9%) of the time.
     
  8. Hokiephile

    Hokiephile New Member

    One of my co-workers did his master's degree in a synchonous program from the U of Alabama. As near as I could tell, he had virtually the same experience he would have had if he had been sitting in the classroom. The grad classes I took at CSUEB were very time-consuming, but it was mostly busy work (being required to post X number of times and answer X number of posts from other students, etc.) but at least there was class cohesion, with quite a bit of interaction with other students (mostly through group projects).

    But if this is the way most UG online programs are, then we'd better expect even less-well-prepared college graduates than we've already got. If this is distance UG education, then seriously, this is not acceptable.
     
  9. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Ummm. I don't teach online or otherwise but this is a pretty small sample size, isn't it?
     
  10. Hokiephile

    Hokiephile New Member

    Yes, which is why I'm asking. Are they all like this or did I just happen to pick an instructor who doesn't know what she's doing or doesn't give a damn?
     
  11. mattbrent

    mattbrent Active Member

    When I took over PLS 211 - US Government at my community college, I was given access to the previous instructor's blackboard shell. Her "course" was pretty much exactly how you described. It was read the chapter, take the quiz. I completely redid the whole thing, which took quite a bit of work. I did video lectures, discussions, political cartoons, youtube videos, etc. I really beefed it up. The nice thing is that now I'm able to reuse all of it, so my fall section is much easier to manage because I can spend my time interacting with the students rather than designing the whole thing.

    -Matt
     
  12. jts

    jts New Member

    I've probably taken 50 online courses. I've never seen one without a discussion forum, and an attempt to create an engaging atmosphere. Also, much to my chagrin at times, discussion participation is always a sizable chunk of the grade.
     
  13. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    This is pretty much my experience with two TV courses (LACCD) and two DL geology courses at Coastline CC. But the courses required lots of reading, the exams were tough, and I learned a lot.
     
  14. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    Nope. I have discussion forums, team assignments in some classes, and numerous other opportunities for interaction. These requirements are the norm at every institution I have taught for.
     
  15. rmm0484

    rmm0484 Member

    NCU is an exception, since they only require students to mail in an assignment. NCU is a low contact school, as was Cal Coast (when I was enrolled) and some other DETC schools such as Aspen, which has a low contact option. IMHO there is nothing inherently wrong with this modality until the doctoral stage.
     
  16. GeeBee

    GeeBee Member

    That has been my experience as well. (Except at U of London, but that's a different animal.) I took two online classes at my local community college, and I'm now taking two at UIS, and all four classes have discussion forums as a big chunk of the grade.

    The biggest variable I've seen is lectures. In only four classes, I've seen the gamut from an instructor who only posted text lecture notes, to one who had full videotaped lectures.
     
  17. Jeff Walker

    Jeff Walker New Member

    I think I would go with 90% of the time. I've encountered a few lecturers that were so terrible and useless that reading out of the book and answering questions would be preferable to F2F, because in the F2F case students felt that they didn't need to read the book.
     
  18. Hokiephile

    Hokiephile New Member

    I have no problem with the idea of "low contact," especially at the graduate level. I even have no problem with the idea of correspondence classes (especially now that that correspondence can be very fast via email). What I do have a problem with is the idea of distance learning is some sort of revolution when all it seemed to be in this class was independent study by email. I wouldn't have a problem with every UG program containing a few of such classes (I took two correspondence classes back in the 70s to apply toward my B.A.), but the thought that some people might go through entire degree programs of such classes is scary.

    Anyway, I'm very glad to hear that not all UG DL classes are like this.

    Since I was asked, I'll reveal that it was Clovis. I've dropped the class. Now I just hope I don't have any trouble getting a refund.
     
  19. addision

    addision Member

    Whats the problem?

    I don't see a problem here. If you look at many of the courses at a number of large universities here is what the course would be like:


    Lecture anywhere from 30 to 200 students. The more students the less personal.
    Most often there is no weekly homework to turn in.
    Maybe some weekly or random quizzes.
    2-3 major exams and a final.

    That's it, there are few if any mandatory group discussions. If you want help go to tutoring... if you can get it. So you are on your own to learn accept for the lectures.

    Sometimes you will have TSA's who can help. Other than that schedule some time to meet with the instructor during office hours. In reality, its read the book and learn on your own.
     
  20. Hokiephile

    Hokiephile New Member

    That's why I don't recommend large universities for undergrads. My UG had 700 students. We couldn't hide.
     

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