We’re all told now that creating an online class isn’t just translating a face-to-face class, but what if the f2f class was really good?
You scare people when you say, “you can’t just put your on-site class online – you have to change your whole pedagogy, be a facilitator, do things differently, be innovative”. The implication is that if you “just” translate your classroom pedagogy to online, you will create a lousy class.
That’s not necessarily true. Some examples:
In the classroom, a teacher uses constructivist methods, giving students evidence and having groups create case studies for presentation. For her online class, she uses the same method, using online groups and shared presentations.
In the classroom, a teacher is a great lecturer. For his online class, he records his lectures, making sure his presentation is dynamic, and posts those for the class.
In the classroom, a teacher provides lots of opportunities for guided discussion. In her online class, she creates both asynchronous forums with well-designed, provocative topics, and some scheduled synchronous activities in which students can talk in real time.
In the classroom, a teacher creates a student-directed learning environment, where student interests and agency are paramount. In her online class, she does the same in an open, online environment.
In the classroom, a teacher Skypes in guest speakers, and has students interact with others around the world. In his online class, he does the same.
When people say “you can’t just translate your on-site class into an online class”, what they mean is that if your class is only non-interactive factual lecture, a pedantic printed textbook, and set exams, bad things will happen. The instructor could just write out their lectures, make assignments, and create tests. S/he will focus more on “putting things up” on the LMS in their current form, the content will be dull, and the students may fail to engage.
So there is a risk and an opportunity here. Encourage teachers with dull pedagogies to go online, and it’s possible, but unlikely, that anything good will occur. Encourage teachers who are cognitive of their own approach, who think about their teaching, and who already design experiences that best combine their own strengths with the needs of the students, and good things will happen.
Then instead of telling instructors their pedagogy must change, we can focus on showing them how to achieve a good translation of the work they already do.