Remote Instruction vs. Online Courses

I’ve taught online courses every semester since the fall of 2003. Every fall, summer and spring, I’d get my materials together, organize and hopefully optimize them for my students to learn. Then, when the first day would come, I’d meet the students online with Introduction Discussions, while answering emails and phone calls while the students adapted. One of the common questions I’d ask in the discussion is for the online veterans to give the newbies some advice. Over a week or two, the students would adjust, get in a grove and off we’d go with the online learning experience with lots of pre-made organized materials and activities. Many of us, including CCCOnline, are calling these “Online Courses”.

…and then there’s what all in-person instructors at colleges around the world are doing right now!

In-person instructors had their classes planned with activities, labs, exams and everything else they thought would best help their students learn. Now, they are being asked to move to an online format they likely aren’t as familiar with to teach students who may or may not know how to adapt to this change. Instructors are rushing to figure out D2L, WebEx, MS Teams and any other tool that may help. In short, this is emergency teaching, which many are now calling “Remote Instruction”.

For my colleagues teaching “Remote Instruction”, I have to applaud you. You are adapting to new technologies and pedagogy faster than I’ve ever seen a group do it before. Okay, it wasn’t by choice, but you are doing it. The conversations last week were, “How do I use WebEx?” This week, I’m hearing more “How should I do online video in my courses?” The first question looks at technology as the answer to the problem. The second sees technology as a tool the instructor uses to help students. It’s this focus on the student that will guide you through!

Right now, Dr. Bolton and the rest of the college leadership are trying to figure out how to make a rose come up from a pile of manure. They could have closed PPCC entirely, leaving our students in a serious bind. Instead, leadership is counting on “remote instructors” to do what has never been done before – start a semester in-person and finish it online. It’s not going to be pretty, but if we focus on the students, we can help our students find that rose.

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