Historiann has a tough question for the faddists who hope online college can solve higher education's Wayne State problem.
[T]hey’re producing a product that’s intended for the state uni and community college crowd.  Here’s why  it’s important to talk to faculty who teach first generation students, working-class returning students, nonwhite students, and students who are financing their own educations through heavy student loan borrowing: we’re already teaching your target “customers,” and we know what they need and why online courses won’t fit the bill.
Let me refresh everybody's memory.

The first-generations and non-traditionals and commuters and anyone else who is not part of the U.S. News bubble but is in college will have no shot at competing with the better-connected or better-resourced supposed meritocrats without a faculty that recognizes the mid-majors and comprehensives are in the same business as the bubble schools, and work with their students accordingly.
[P]rofessors matter too.  We matter not just to the weaker students who appear to benefit more from f2f courses, but even to the strongest students as we have a decisive leadership role in our own classrooms as to what we talk about, how we discuss issues and problems, and in what we decide to do with “teaching moments” in f2f classes that might appear to be purely provocative and/or clueless student comments in an online discussion session.  I’m sure all of you faculty types can think back with pride on a moment in which you were challenged in class by a student, or a time when you took what seemed like a profoundly obvious comment and used it as an opportunity for deeper exploration of a subject or problem.

Keep in mind, also, that developing as a professor includes developing the ability to distinguish a clueless question from a badly phrased yet insightful question. Not always easy.

No comments: