Online classes seem to vary teacher by teacher. It’s an increasingly difficult uphill battle to get a selection of students to perform well in an online environment. Being a veteran of the online structure, I’ve seen many different applications of online learning. Some teachers go straight for the throat and assign readings; expecting every student to keep up and take weekly quizzes to ensure retention of knowledge. Some give their students the freedom while maintaining a decent amount of coursework all due at some point in the future.
Whatever the flavor is, online classes seem to be all the rage these days. The power to do your own work at your own time is something many students find appealing to a high extent. However, there are many teachers who just simply do not have a place in a digital classroom. I had a teacher, back at a previous institution, who would put entire lectures (2+ hours) online for us to listen to. While that doesn’t seem that bad, she also assigned a chapter a week from a book with 60+ page chapters, two quizzes (one for the lectures and one for the book, which were both different material), and gave us weekly projects. Did I also mention that this was a hybrid class? We met on Wednesdays for an hour and a half.
There needs to be a balance between teacher and student; a carefully crafted classroom complete with assignments, reading material, and other sorts of learning materials/projects that doesn’t overload the student. That being said, the object of an online class is to condense what one would take in a physical environment; which is usually an hour and a half to two hours of classroom time. This class has been an example of a perfect balance of work and testing materials. Our instructor asked us to participate in bi-weekly group discussions (for the most part), a weekly blog tracking our thoughts about the reading he assigned, and tests to make sure we were keeping up with all the material. Everything was streamlined into one central learned topic, not spread out over a lecture, a book, online reading assignments, etc.
Connecting with the classroom is the most important thing in an online environment. In order to achieve a good spread of students passing your curriculum, streamline your lectures, your assignments, your projects, and other assorted things into a pool of information you’d like them to keep. Don’t bog them down with assignments just to keep them busy. Make everything worthwhile.