How Traditional Universities Are Using Online Courses

The NYTimes had a story that profiled the University of Florida’s use of broadcasting lectures online to decrease the cost of delivering courses to a greater number of students (link here).  A major emphasis of the report is that academic departments need to find efficient models of delivery in a time of decreasing budgets.

While I agree with the gist of the article, there are more cost effective ways to educate students than the traditional face-to-face classroom, I completely disagree that what was profiled was online learning.  We’ve seen for years educators that video their lecture and post it as a podcast or stream it online.  This is NOT online learning.  E-learning needs to incorporate curriculum designed to be taken in and retained via the web.  It should use the real-time nature of the web to engage students and deliver interactive content, building an environment where students can dig into the materials in an individualized manner. The course needs to be redesigned to meet the needs of e-learners while incorporating the advantages of being online.

I know it the path of least resistance is for an instructor to stream a video of the same class that they have traditionally taught, but can’t we do better?

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One Response to How Traditional Universities Are Using Online Courses

  1. Sarah says:

    The online versus traditional classwork is a great debate. Having had the opportunity to participate in both, I can share why it is such a dilemma. Trying to balance a full-time job and two night a week in class was difficult. While I know many institutions value the discussion and “insight” that is afforded by seat time, it is what is turning me away from continuing my coursework. In the same vein, online coursework cannot be watching the professor lecture. My experience was a series of readings and the expectation of blog posts each week. I was expected to follow the thread and add my thoughts, supported by research I had completed. I made it work in my schedule and while the discussion in classes can be entertaining, I value my personal time more and felt the online course worked for me.

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