Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pushing Through The Perils of Teaching Online - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Pushing Through The Perils of Teaching Online - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

By Doug Ward

Photo Mountaineer in a Paradise Glacier ice cave, Mount Rainier National Park by Flickr user University of Washington Digital Collections / No known copyright restrictions

[This is a guest post by Doug Ward, an associate professor of journalism and the Budig Professor of Writing at the University of Kansas. You can find him online at and, and follow him on Twitter @kuediting. Doug has written several guest posts before, most recently on grading with voice on an iPad.--@jbj]

I knew the student evaluations from my spring online class would be harsh, but that harshness exceeded anything I had imagined.

The class was disorganized, students said again and again.

The professor was distant and uninvolved, others growled.

Several students dismissed my attempt to promote peer learning, complained about a lack of feedback, moaned about the added cost of an online class, snarled about my ability as a teacher. One even suggested that I was unfit to teach.

This was unfamiliar territory. In my march toward tenure, I had consistently received stellar teaching evaluations. I throw myself into classes and experiment with new material, techniques and technologies. I work at learning the strengths and weaknesses of my students, always making time for them and learning about their aspirations. That has paid off, not only with tenure but with an award as the college journalism and mass communication teacher of the year.

I bring that up to offer perspective, not to boast. On the one hand, I was being told I was among the best of the best teachers. On the other hand, many students told me I was a failure online.
So where did I go wrong? Please
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