Virginia Tech(nology)

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…

 

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2 thoughts on “Virginia Tech(nology)”

  1. It is true that the face of teaching and education is changing with the technological times. We do need to adapt to incorporate the influences and capabilities that technology has on the students and the classroom. I disagree that it takes away some of the control of the faculty, as they/we are the ones selecting what articles to read, what activities to experience, methods of delivery, and means to achieve the lesson goals. In fact, I would say that it grants more freedom than we have had in the past; being only limited to books and articles we pulled for students in the traditional didactic methods. Perhaps it is wise to keep in mind that technology is only a tool, much like a chalkboard, whiteboard, or typewriter. These all had their times working their way into the classrooms and have made great benefits in the learning environments. The technology is already in the classroom, if you notice students typing notes in their laptops or iPads, rather than writing in paper notebooks. We need to better leverage this medium. There are ways to monitor login information, IP addresses, and other methods to ensure who may be doing the work. But I have found that either face-to-face or on line…cheaters gonna’ cheat!

    1. Thank you for another perspective Karen! You do make a great point that professors can utilize technology to create an even better learning environment. Online classes can lend themselves to cheating at times, but you are also right that students who want to cheat can do it in most any class format. I’ve heard a number of ways that students have tried to cheat in class that I keep in mind when teaching. A similar awareness with online classes could help create a nice learning environment. Here’s to learning through technology!

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