We just came across a piece by Dr. Devoney Looser of Arizona State University which presents a valuable instructor-side perspective on motivations and experiences with online teaching. With all of the chatter about online learning, one critical vantage point - that of instructors - is often lacking in that conversation. Decades, yes decades, into the internet-era where many other everyday activities from banking and bill payment to diagnostic imaging in medicine to communications have seamlessly moved online one area that is a bit slower to shift is teaching and learning. Why might that be the case? From the perspective of one faculty member then:
Faculty objections to online teaching remain widespread in the academic circles in which I travel. At each of the universities where I’ve taught, I’ve encountered colleagues who feared or despised it, most of the time without ever actually having taught online themselves. One department I was part of even passed a resolution against online teaching.
Let's assume for the moment that all of the critiques of online learning were, at one point in time or another, actually true what's the likelihood that they remain true today? Online calling was once fraught with show-stopping issues of latency and packet loss but today we've got Facetime and Google Hangouts. In an age where many professions require regular use of a connected device (where are you reading this, by the way?) is it such a stretch to believe that online teaching and learning have matured as well? From this instructor's perspective:
Online students are just as "present" in virtual discussions; they are just as ambitious and well-directed in their coursework; and they are every bit as hungry for knowledge as the in-person version.
Other instructors are concerned about IP and reuse of their digital course materials, particularly recorded videos. If they leave the institution who owns those assets and how might they be reused?
Whatever you may fear to the contrary, your video lectures are not poised to become precious commodities to your employer a decade hence. Video does not age well, and savvy students are unlikely to stand for a curriculum centered on long-ago recorded images of a dead professor, passed off as up-to-date instruction.
Our experiences with Junction support this assertion, students very quickly discriminate between current, topical, video and information that may have been recorded and archived years ago. Instructional styles, approaches, examples and video quality all change over time. Another common critique is about the students who enroll in online sections. Keep in mind they often are NOT receiving discounts (despite the fact they are not using campus-based facilities) and are borrowing money to pursue their degrees, money that will be paid back from future earnings. A case could be made that many of today's online students have greater incentives to perform.
My perceptions were shaped by hearing how they [online students] ended up back in school. For most of them, an online program was their only path to a degree. They lived in rural areas, had no transportation, faced restricting disabilities, found themselves with demanding family obligations, or couldn’t find in-person courses offered at times that would allow them keep their jobs. An online education was rarely their first choice, but it was often their only option.
Many of the points here are supported by the stories that our clients share with us about student engagement and success in blended and fully online sections using Junction courses. Student engagement in Junction-delivered online courses is higher, students are more engaged with their peers and the learning content, they are more prepared for discussions and record-breaking numbers of them are completing their Junction courses and continuing on in their degree programs. It's a constantly evolving balance - quality learning online requires motivated instructors, high-quality content, an easy-to-use, workflow-optimized learning platform and automated insights that help both instructors and students alike. To read more from Dr. Looser, click the link below.

Why I Teach Online

Advice I might never have sought an online teaching assignment if my husband hadn't been diagnosed with cancer. Faced with a foreseeable future of his multiple hospital stays, home recovery, and anticipated need for my amateur nursing - all while trying to care for our two children - I jumped at the chance to temporarily transition to an online teaching schedule.