Today, I started an online class entitled “How to teach an online class.” In the past, I have had no direct experience with online teaching, but I am very excited to see what this course will bring. My own thoughts on online teaching are evolving. On the one hand, I am a firm believer in the value of daily and personal interaction. One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that I get to personally interact with students every day. I enjoy getting to know them, hearing their opinions on various issues, and trying to help them become successful students. In the past, I always thought that these things would not be possible in an online setting, but the more I research this type of instruction, the less sure I get.
Instead, it seems to me that today’s students are used to (and in some cases thrive on) different kinds of interaction. They are just as comfortable interacting with you in person as they are online. They find ways to get to know their teachers and peers through various online mediums, which leaves me with the slightly uncomfortable feeling that it is me, and not them, who makes incorrect assumptions about online teaching.
Is online teaching different from what I have always done? Yes. But, I am willing and excited to try it to see how I experience it. An online teaching or learning experience will undoubtably be different from a traditional one. However, I am starting to believe that in the right circumstances, and done in the right way, online teaching can serve as a nice compliment to more traditional means of teaching. It will not replace traditional teaching, but it could offer some nice opportunities for today’s students.
In the end, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to try an online course, and I am excited to see what it will mean for me as a teacher.