Module 7

Sounds like the name of a fancy new operating system…

It’s been interesting to have the discussions with the ISTC 717 students regarding their feelings toward implementation of online courses for freshman at Faber.  I find myself going back and forth on my feeling for it, part of me is for it and part of me is against.  Each time I read the opinion of another “student” or “faculty member” I change my mind again.  I think I see both the positives and negatives of the issue.

Having been on the other side of this issue as a faculty member where they tried to implement a similar plan, I know of some of the issues that will arise before it’s fully implemented.  One of those was already discussed on the discussion board and deals with the time that teachers are given to create their courses.  This was one of the major issues that we dealt with when we were implementing Moodle.  In addition to this we dealt with philosophical issues of having students spend more time in front of the computer.  It doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue at the college level, more the argument for the necessity of face to face interaction with their peers and teachers.  I feel that this is comfortable, but also understand why Faber would want to develop these DE courses for the Gen Ed requirements.  These are classes that are generally basis and don’t deal with the abstract ideas that some major courses do.

Something else to consider is that DE courses lend themselves better to some subjects than others.  It doesn’t seem as easy to teach and Anatomy & Physiology course (one of my gen eds in college) online as it might be to teach an English course.  In English we presume that most of the coursework would deal with reading and writing, where as some of the A&P work would deal with hands on work (I remember a lab where we took each others blood pressure and learned to find the systolic and diastolic beats to come up with the 120/80ish number.  It doesn’t seem like something that could be done as easily online.  Though they could develop an interactive piece that mimics this and you listen to a recording, it probably wouldn’t be as reliable a method of teaching this or as fun of a lab.

This brings us to another issue that I haven’t seen discussed yet on the board (though it may have been discussed since I last read all the posts) but the fact that making gen eds all DE courses pretty much requires that a student have a personal computer and Internet connection.  I know that most colleges assume this is the case, but I think there are still students that depend on using the library and other labs to do their computer work on this equipment.  This was an issue that was discussed at our school and it’s easy to assume that if a family is paying $21K to send their child to school, they should certainly have these items available to their child.  On the other hand, those families that attend Friends primarily on financial aid would be provided with a computer and Internet connection to deal with this issue.  However, I don’t see anywhere that Faber has considered this obstacle.

All in all, it’s been interesting to hear the opinions of the teachers and students.  It would have been interesting to participate in a similar exercise prior to our implementation of Moodle at Friends.  It probably would have helped us to avoid a lot of issues and take into consideration more ideas and opinions than we initially did.


2 responses to “Module 7

  1. I meant to respond to this last week when I read it … whoops! I referenced your post on my blog, but I also wanted to say something about your point regarding requiring students to have an Internet connection. Some schools now require students to purchase specific types of computers, which I think we discussed in class before. Maybe Faber can take a cut of the increase in tuition to help pay for DE … although it seems that students and parents will not be too happy about prices going up again. Even worse, if students opt to not even take DE classes, will they still have to purchase a machine? Who knows!

  2. You’re right, the plan at Faber, never did acknowledge the need for computer access. The case doesn’t give any detail about technology expectations, requirements or campus availability or the fact that students might mostly be on campus… would they want an online class if they are already on campus anyway. I think the surveys that we discussed will be helpful in helping Faber to make some of these final decisions.
    All too often institutions make technology decisions without considering all of the other things that are effected and everything that’s needed to make it work.

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