US: I'll never teach online again

I trained for it, I tried it, and I'll never do it again. While online teaching may be the wave of the future (although I desperately hope not), it is not for me. Perhaps I'm the old dog that resists new tricks. Maybe I am a technophobe. It might be that I'm plain old-fashioned.

This much I can say with certainty: I have years of experience successfully teaching in collegiate classrooms and online teaching doesn't compare. So I'll just chalk up my first and only venture to experience and make my way back to the traditional academy. Among the reasons why are these.

* "Virtual community" is the ultimate oxymoron. It is an inherent contradiction in terms - like saying one is "fresh from the tennis court". While some people find the anonymity enabling and are able to bond with their cybergroup and engage in true confessions, I find it extraordinarily difficult to communicate with people for whom I have no face, no persona, no body language, no in-the-moment exchange.

* The lack of immediacy in communication is maddening.

* The quality of education is compromised in online learning. In online teaching, I was only able to introduce students to a limited amount of material outside of the textbook readings; it is simply impossible to replicate a lecture online. Nor could I adequately help them develop better writing and critical thinking skills or to foster original ideas because there simply wasn't enough time or a proper forum.

* Show me the money. I devoted at least three times as many hours and triple the energy to online teaching than was necessary for traditional courses. But I received no additional compensation for that effort. I considered that exploitation.

* Online teaching can be very punishing. In addition to the lack of financial incentive that one might reasonably expect from such an endeavour, it would have been nice to feel that I had some down time and a day off occasionally, as I did with classroom teaching.

Try to talk me down. Tell me I didn't give it enough time. Call me old-fashioned and out-of-date. Just don't call me to teach online.

*This is an extract from an article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education last month. Elayne Clift has been a lecturer at various colleges and universities since 1987 and is author of ACHAN: A Year of Teaching in Thailand (Bangkok Books, 2007).

I''ve been printing hard copy teaching material and lecturer notes for students for 31years. I'm interested to know the pass rate in examinations of students learning through online teaching compared with the old days of hard copy and face-to-face lectures. How does it compare?


Gayle, it depends on what kind of assessment the student is looking for and feels is a good representation of their learning. Studying my bachelors (on campus in Sydney) I would not interact so much during my lectures, and tended to cram for exams âEUR" while this often ended in a good result (IâEUR(TM)m very creative last minute), I wasnâEUR(TM)t learning as much as I probably could have. IâEUR(TM)m now completing my masters online, and I mean EVERYTHING is pretty much online âEUR" I am getting challenged every week as my professor monitors and assesses my performance and class contributions. Moreover, IâEUR(TM)m expected every week to provide insight as to how each subject is relevant to my work experience. It was interesting for me to read the above article âEUR" I think a campus environment is great for young people, undergraduates who have not yet started work; but I think that e-learning very much suits busy working people like myself, who need global interaction, and a lot of flexibility in time. Saying that, it is not easier âEUR" I need to be thinking and applying theory to practice every day -- but IâEUR(TM)m constantly learning and being notified of where I need to strengthen or improve my skillset and knowledge each week âEUR" much more effective for me than the days of late nights and cramming material before an exam!! Perhaps the author of the article is a bit of a âEURoedinosaurâEUR