A Blog Change: Learning in a Social Distancing World


In a previous post I discussed how more and more students are choosing to pursue their schooling via an online program. Now with COVID-19 besieging our nation and closing college campuses across the country, it appears that college students won't have a choice. All coursework and advising is moving online. Unfortunately, this is going to present a major problem.


As a former college dean who recently led departments in the humanities and the social sciences, I can tell you from experience that most of my faculty will be able to convert their in-class courses into on-line learning. However, there is a small, but significant percent that not only do not know how to do this, they are very much uninterested in doing so. Sadly, we probably have to assume that this reality is not unique to my past university. Indeed, Inside Higher Ed's 2019 Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology indicates that 54% of college faculty have not taught an online class for credit before. Moreover, 33% of faculty in the survey indicated that they either disagreed or strongly disagreed that "For-credit online courses can achieve student learning outcomes that are at least equivalent to those of in-person courses at my institution." In other words, one-third of faculty members do not believe that learning will be as successful through distance delivery.


I don't want to be negative about my colleagues in higher education as there are already more than enough critics of the academy to go around. Nevertheless, while many faculty have been teaching effectively online for some time, the reality is most faculty members have never taught an online course in their life. And a large number of them are not particularly enthusiastic about the effectiveness of distance education.


This spells trouble, not only for class logistics and responsiveness, but also for student learning. Many college students are not going to receive a quality education for the rest of this school year. Because many students will probably need to take on the responsibility of educating themselves during this unprecedented time, I've decided to shift the focus of this blog. Until further notice, I will blog about learning programs and technology tools that can help proactive students advance their learning. While each student has always been ultimately responsible for her or his own learning, this particular crises underlines the necessity of self-education even more.

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