Students Hold Different Expectations For In-Class And Online Courses

The Blog E-Learning Acupuncture has an interesting look at student expectations for online versus classroom based courses (link here).  Following the research of Albert Johnson, Senior Instructional Designer at Memorial University, finds that while both categories of students agree on nine most important instructor characteristics, their prioritized ranking is quite different.

Rank
In-class
Distance Online
1
Respectful
Respectful
2
Knowledgeable
Responsive
3
Approachable
Knowledgeable
4
Engaging
Approachable
5
Communicative
Communicative
6
Organized
Organized
7
Responsive
Engaging
8
Professional
Professional
9
Humorous
Humorous

The major mover is of course responsiveness and I believe it is easy to understand why.  When online students believe they are operating in an “on-demand” world.  They are, for the most part, as materials supporting their lessons are available as needed via the web.  However, when they run across questions regarding the material, and the only source for a solution is the instructor, the “on-demand” environment turns into a waiting game.

Sure, one way to improve this is for instructors to quickly respond to student questions, think in a manner of hours not days.  however, it would also be wise for instructors to plan to include “on-demand” help resources into their online learning communities.  The inclusion of a FAQ, student led question/answer wiki, or even pointing out common trouble spots in an assignment before it is assigned can go along way in creating that “on-demand” responsive learning environment.

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