With the recent blog about technology/social media etc., I got to thinking about how we use technology in higher education. I have taught online classes, and I find myself wondering how standards are different between an in class format versus online. I wonder about how to keep students honestly doing their work. What is to keep students in online classes from having someone else do the work for them? Even when we have online assignments, how can we know that students haven’t cheated? And mostly, what can we do as faculty to promote honest education?
The U.S. university with the largest student body is the University of Phoenix, and that amount of students has even been greatly reduced in recent years as indicated by this CNN article. University of Phoenix is a for-profit school that often advertises for online programs. It seems to me that the options for online programs is nearly limitless. I can see the draw to them because of the flexibility that people may need for time or location of residence. Having a family makes being a traditional student rather challenging, so online allows for a less rigid schedule. However, how does an online program compare to an in person degree? I’m earning my degree in counselor education, which is very focused on human interaction. I find myself wondering how well someone can develop into a counselor while doing an online program. I know people who have online degrees in the mental health field who are very good at their work. I have also heard horror stories about people with online counseling degrees. There are online counseling programs that are accredited, so they must be meeting some standards, yet I can’t help but recognize how much learning and growth takes place within the classroom.
The Preparing Future Professoriate class has got me thinking a lot about systemic issues of teaching, more than just what happens in the classroom. So I am curious about where regulations about online degrees will go in the future. I don’t have answers to a lot of the questions I have posed in this blog, but a lot of these inquiries don’t have concrete answers. We as educators are having to adapt more than ever because of the influence that technology is having on education. But it also takes away a lot of the control that faculty have in the classroom. There are some benefits to this, such as more flexibility and individualized learning. But at the same time, with teachers not being able to monitor student activity, it can call into question how much of student work is their own. I am all for lifelong learning, so online classes make that more possible for a greater portion of the population. But how good is the training one gets online compared to in class? I’m hoping to find some more answers as I continue to look into this topic…