July 20, 2024

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Misunderstanding online education at Virginia Tech (letter)

Misunderstanding online education at Virginia Tech (letter)

To the Editor:

Actions of high-quality in on-line training have been created via a long time of investigation in the industry of instructional style and technology (IDT), informing very best techniques in the structure, development,
implementation and evaluation of present-day on the net programs and systems. Your modern short article, “Online Courses Surge at Virginia Tech. But What About Outcomes?” by Susan D’Agostino, calls into query the quality of the on line classes highlighted in the piece.

Unfortunately, this write-up is made up of notable misconceptions about on line education in general as well as misunderstandings about techniques for measuring the performance of these classes. It is hoped that the
prospect to highlight these problems and share appropriate, proof-primarily based resources from the IDT knowledge foundation might advise long run publications which feature the topic of good quality in on the net training.

First, the author labels the classes showcased in this posting “massive on line classes,” conflating them with Massive On the internet Open up Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are absolutely free or minimal-expense mastering options readily available to
anyone and are really unique than the classes highlighted in this article—large enrollment undergraduate classes for household pupils. This distinction is an crucial a single. The students are diverse, the patterns of the discovering ordeals are distinctive, and, as a result, the actions of quality are automatically different. 

A different crucial false impression in this write-up relates to a suggestion that VT ought to identify the effectiveness of the showcased online courses by evaluating student mastering outcomes in people classes to their on-campus counterparts. This recommended follow fails to contemplate many years of exploration that explicates why such comparisons are not valid or meaningful. A selection of causes exist for preventing the use of such comparisons. One fundamental challenge is that this technique presumes the facial area-to-face classroom to be the gold standard against which quality is calculated. These comparisons place credit score (or blame) for scholar achievement on the bodily understanding environment without the need of thinking about the numerous things that do impact scholar mastering, particularly the selected instructing approach and its alignment with targeted discovering results.

As this kind of, the tutorial technique and the shipping and delivery method are confounded, resulting in outcomes that are meaningless. Media comparison research these types of as these advisable in the article are not practical sources of info about the success of any form of instruction. 

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An additional essential oversight in the article is the absence of information and facts about the instructional design and style strategies employed in the featured classes. The school instructing these courses engaged in aware planning and
implementation initiatives informed by the science of understanding and most effective practices in online training. For example, Professor Greg Tew created open on line textbooks for his Layout Appreciation and Lifetime in the Created Setting programs using strategic alternatives to interact the learners in authentic apps of style information and expertise.

Professor Stefan Duma arranged in-man or woman lab sessions to bring on-line pupils jointly as aspect of his Concussion Views training course. Every of these school users connect on a regular basis with their
students pertaining to class plans, timelines, and anticipations, facts that is made accessible through their in-depth course internet sites which provide as an organizational framework for these classes. Moreover, Professor Duma retains weekly in-particular person place of work several hours as prospects to engage with and support his online students, in addition to offering aid by way of email in an ongoing manner. Professor Tew features a person-on-a person Zoom calls as wanted and individually responds to pupil emails commonly inside of minutes, seven times a week. These kinds of instructional design and learner assist procedures are the hallmarks of effective online and blended instructing and studying, underpinned by a long time of investigation by students in instructional design and know-how.

Finally, the short article neglected to mention the essential use of formative evaluation facts in the implementation of the showcased classes. The article’s essential question of “What about outcomes?” is answered via constant evaluation of these programs to guarantee they are facilitating the intended learning results and assembly pupil wants using a variety of formative analysis tactics. For example, the mastering administration methods that guidance on-line (and in-human being) programs at Virginia Tech permit instructors to keep track of student progress in the course of the program, offering insights as to when pupils may be struggling.

Furthermore, the frequent engagement these faculty have with their online learners, beyond what is achievable in a huge lecture hall, provides more formative suggestions which can be utilized to revise course ideas and/or present supplemental thorough direction or assistance for the total course. Formative evaluation info generates significant facts which can be made use of to handle emergent student wants and facilitate a extra productive mastering experience above all.

The probability to share these difficulties and issues contained in the post “Online Courses Surge at Virginia Tech. But What About Results?” is appreciated. Perhaps larger recognition of the rules of
effective design, implementation, and analysis of online educating and discovering, as very well as the extensive research base on which ideal practices for on-line instructing and learning are crafted, can positively tell
penned explorations of these matters heading forward. 

–Barbara B. Lockee
Associate Vice Provost for College Affairs
Professor, Educational Style and Technologies