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13 March 2015 @ 07:52 am
All you need to know...  
As a college professor, I receive ads weekly about how to teach. This week, an ad for a web-based course claimed this: "And if you are new to teaching, Principles of Effective College Teaching covers everything you'll need to know."

I highly doubt this claim. I have been teaching for nearly 40 years, and I do not know it all. Not even close, I think, on some days. Here is what I do know after 5 years of teaching online courses:

1. I still miss the FTF experience. I loved being able to work with students during class, to share books in person and have them do the same. I miss covering things that now have to become "assignments" rather than a collaborative learning experience. Yes, I know. Technology allows me to do things I could never have imagined years ago, but nothing beats being able to have conversations FTF.

2. It all boils down to the individual student no matter the forum or platform. I have had discussions, phone calls, emails, and other conversations with individual students about a wide range of topics including "triggers." While I have policies, I still need to be flexible and deal with things on a case by case basis.

3. No matter how clear I think I am being, there will be questions and confusion. I include screen casts and written directions for each assignment. Still, there are questions. If there is no word limit, I am asked how many words. If there IS a word limit, I am asked if there are penalties for going over the word count.

I do enjoy teaching and grading in my pajamas. I am happy that online classes are allowing more folks to pursue their MLS degree because of its flexibility. Our program is successful because we still take a personal touch approach. Most of our students graduate, and do so within 2 years. Our enrollment continues to be healthy even when some schools are cutting librarians. I think our students are our best advocates in this. And we can offer classes in states where there is no MLS program making sure that existing libraries are staffed.

So, thanks for the seminar, folks. All I need to know about teaching? All I know is that it is a vocation for me, one I love.
 
 
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