In my new role as the Vice Provost for Distance Education, I am enrolled in an online course offered by the Sloan consortium. I posted my first discussion topic, replied to some the posts and worked on three online assignments. I was amazed at the amount of information I gathered and the interactions I had with other participants. This was an eye-opening experience.
A recent study published by Inside Higher Ed reports that many of our faculty peers are “more pessimistic than optimistic about online learning” when they have limited interaction with distance education:
Faculty members with a greater exposure to online education have a less-pessimistic view than their peers. Instructors at schools with online offerings (either online courses or programs) are more positive than do those at institutions with no such offerings. Faculty with direct online teaching experience have, by far, the most positive views towards online education.
There are many things about distance education that are new to me, to our faculty, and to our students. And, as with many things, the more we participate in online learning–whether we are developing, teaching, or taking courses–the better informed we are about the possibilities and the pitfalls.
Perhaps it’s time for more of us to take the plunge and experience distance education, then participate in the dialog about our strategy, mission, and vision here at the University of Arkansas.
What do you think?