Tuesday, March 21, 2023
HomeEducationMisunderstanding on-line schooling at Virginia Tech (letter)

Misunderstanding on-line schooling at Virginia Tech (letter)

To the Editor:

Measures of high quality in on-line schooling have been developed by way of a long time of analysis within the discipline of tutorial design and know-how (IDT), informing greatest practices within the design, improvement,
implementation and analysis of latest on-line programs and applications. Your latest article, “On-line Courses Surge at Virginia Tech. However What About Outcomes?” by Susan D’Agostino, calls into query the standard of the net programs featured within the piece.

Sadly, this text incorporates notable misconceptions about on-line schooling normally in addition to misunderstandings about methods for measuring the effectiveness of those programs. It’s hoped that the
alternative to spotlight these points and share related, evidence-based sources from the IDT data base might inform future publications which function the subject of high quality in on-line schooling.

First, the writer labels the programs featured on this article “large on-line programs,” conflating them with Large On-line Open Programs (MOOCs). MOOCs are free or low-cost studying alternatives obtainable to
anybody and are fairly totally different than the programs featured on this article—giant enrollment undergraduate programs for residential college students. This distinction is a crucial one. The college students are totally different, the designs of the training experiences are totally different, and, thus, the measures of high quality are essentially totally different. 

One other key false impression on this article pertains to a advice that VT ought to decide the effectiveness of the featured on-line programs by evaluating scholar studying outcomes in these courses to their on-campus counterparts. This steered observe fails to contemplate a long time of analysis that explicates why such comparisons aren’t legitimate or significant. A wide range of causes exist for avoiding using such comparisons. One elementary problem is that this method presumes the face-to-face classroom to be the gold commonplace towards which high quality is measured. These comparisons place credit score (or blame) for scholar achievement on the bodily studying setting with out contemplating the various elements that do influence scholar studying, notably the chosen educating technique and its alignment with focused studying outcomes.

As such, the educational methodology and the supply mode are confounded, leading to outcomes which might be meaningless. Media comparability research reminiscent of these really useful within the article aren’t helpful sources of details about the effectiveness of any type of instruction. 

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One other key oversight within the article is the absence of details about the educational design methods employed within the featured programs. The school educating these programs engaged in conscious planning and
implementation efforts knowledgeable by the science of studying and greatest practices in on-line schooling. For instance, Professor Greg Tew created open on-line textbooks for his Design Appreciation and Life within the Constructed Atmosphere programs utilizing strategic alternatives to have interaction the learners in genuine functions of design data and abilities.

Professor Stefan Duma organized in-person lab classes to deliver on-line college students collectively as a part of his Concussion Views course. Every of those college members talk recurrently with their
college students concerning course plans, timelines, and expectations, data that’s made obtainable by way of their detailed course web sites which function an organizational framework for these programs. Moreover, Professor Duma holds weekly in-person workplace hours as alternatives to have interaction with and help his on-line college students, along with offering help through e-mail in an ongoing method. Professor Tew presents one-on-one Zoom calls as wanted and personally responds to scholar emails often inside minutes, seven days a week. These sorts of tutorial design and learner help methods are the hallmarks of efficient on-line and blended educating and studying, underpinned by a long time of analysis by students in tutorial design and know-how.

Lastly, the article uncared for to say the vital use of formative analysis knowledge within the implementation of the featured programs. The article’s key query of “What about outcomes?” is answered by way of steady analysis of those programs to make sure they’re facilitating the supposed studying outcomes and assembly scholar wants utilizing numerous formative analysis methods. For instance, the training administration programs that help on-line (and in-person) programs at Virginia Tech allow instructors to observe scholar progress all through the course, offering insights as to when college students might be struggling.

Moreover, the common engagement these college have with their on-line college students, past what is feasible in a big lecture corridor, presents further formative suggestions which can be utilized to revise course plans and/or present further detailed steerage or help for the entire class. Formative analysis knowledge generates vital data which can be utilized to deal with emergent scholar wants and facilitate a simpler studying expertise over all.

The prospect to share these points and challenges contained within the article “On-line Courses Surge at Virginia Tech. However What About Outcomes?” is appreciated. Maybe higher consciousness of the rules of
efficient design, implementation, and analysis of on-line educating and studying, in addition to the in depth analysis base on which greatest practices for on-line educating and studying are constructed, can positively inform
written explorations of those subjects going ahead. 

–Barbara B. Lockee
Affiliate Vice Provost for College Affairs
Professor, Educational Design and Know-how



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