In Marsha Carr’s article The Online University Classroom: One Perspective for Effective Student Engagement and Teaching in an Online Environment, several universities are moving forward with a new design in online teaching. What this means is that students are in favor of an online option for that specific course within their major. Some of these reasons students are opting for online classes is because they either have a family or work-related responsibilities. Carr warns that educators should consider how to present their online classroom to the students in an appropriate fashion and more importantly, shape the layout of the class to be formatted on an online interface. Online courses go down a different route compared to the traditional classroom on campus and it is crucial to understand what the main takeaway is for students taking the course.
When taking on this new role as an online teacher, it is their responsibility to design the course based on the goals within the course, social aspects, and last but not least the information for the correct category. The social interaction requires an idea for setting up sections for emails, online videos, and of course group work inside this internet classroom. In order to successfully interact with the students, the instructor must have consistent updates, certain lectures each week, and discussion forums to answer questions about the course. For some students, this is a new way to complete a course and approach a new way of learning through an online course. However, for others, this is a daunting task to take on during a semester and some students drop the course due to the unfamiliarity of online education. This is where the instructor posts a tutorial video on the online interface such as blackboard. Blackboard is an online interface that encompasses forums, specific modules for the instructor to install on each section of the course, video conferencing (or an option to use Skype just in case a student needs to talk to the instructor face to face). With all of these special tools required for an online course, it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure all of the students respond in the course appropriately in an academic setting. These courses should be easily accessible to all students enrolled in the class and the instructor needs to install the correct link for students to submit their work online.
As someone who has had experience not only as a student taking online courses but also working directly with instructors as an assistant, I truly understand the pitfalls. When I TA’d last fall in a creative writing class with 100 students, I can fully comprehend some of the disadvantages of working with students online. Several questions came up as I was reading this article and reflecting on my experience with online learning: how do you assist a student when they are confused with a concept? What sort of comments would be easily comprehensible for an online class when discussing their writing? However, online classes will improve as time goes on and eventually, create a successful method to obtain the same goals an instructor would achieve in a campus setting. After all, Marsha Carr said this, “Online course delivery is a valuable method of teaching but it requires an organized course format and delivery; an instructor who is knowledgeable in the environment; and students that are aware of the responsibilities and additional demands of the online setting” (108).