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Online Edcuation

Presentation @ Saint Mary’s College

Saint Mary’s College Conference
Teachers, Teaching and the Media Conference
October 16th to 18th

Panel: Alternative Communities, Alternative Stories: Experimenting with Moocs, Community Television, and Cinema
Friday, October 17th / with By: Tomás Crowder-Taraborrelli and Kristi Wilson

MOOCs and Social Media (pdf file)
A discussion about MOOCs, courses and the idea of “open”
By Fabian Banga

Online education has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade, spurred by a combination of technological innovations, economic drivers, and changing demographics. Today, more than one third of the nation’s college students take courses online. According to the latest survey by the College Board and Babson Survey Research Group, Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States (2013), over 6.7 million students at four-year institutions in the United States were taking at least one online course during the fall of 2011, an increase of more than half a million, or 9.3 percent, over 2010 (Babson, 2013).

In this context we have experienced the rise of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). But what are MOOCs? Can we consider MOOCs a phenomenon associated with online education or just a continuation of the space associated with social media? Are they products of our neoliberal society? We will have a discussion about MOOCs and question of what the “C” means. Are MOOCs courses or online events? We will discuss how to teach in the open internet without learning outcomes. Finally, we will question the word “course” or at least demand a clarification of what constitutes a course. We will discuss an example of a MOOC I offered in spring 2013 at Berkeley City College.

The challenges of teaching online composition classes

(in-progress – for the 2013 edition of magazine Connections – FLANC)

The importance of confronting the challenges of online classes and preventing those challenges, I would suggest, is more important than foreseeing the opportunities the classes will offer. The possibilities are unlimited in every class. However, understanding its level of unpredictability, seem to be common ground on online classes.  My experiences training online instructors have shown me that many who are interested in teaching online classes do not anticipate these difficulties.  For this reason, I would like to discuss some of the more important challenges, perhaps not to suggest that I have a simple solution for them, but to place them in the center of the discussion with the hope that some of these ideas might be useful to the community of educators who are interested in exploring the field of instructional technologies and online education.

Online classes are basically not so different from regular face-to-face classes. The dynamics are similar but the representation of these dynamics in virtual space creates the illusion of discrepancy between these two modes of teaching. The forum in which the interaction takes place is the challenge. Furthermore the challenge becomes magnified by the fact that in many cases the students have a great deal of expertise in the area of virtual space and none in the subject studied while the instructor has exactly the opposite type of expertise.

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