Teaching Online: The Big Picture

Chapter 1 of The Online Teaching Survival Guide (2nd Ed.) pp. 3-13

In first part of this chapter of The Online Teaching Survival Guide (pp. 3-6) Boettcher and Conrad (2016) focus discussion on what they call “big picture” aspects of online education.

How does online teaching fit into the curriculum (traditional classes, online only classes, blended learning, MOOCs etc.) at post-secondary schools, and how it affects the teaching lives of various types of instructors (tenured faculty, part-time, sessional, etc.) in educational institutions?

Although I feel the overview is generally accurate, and I agree that instructors are often not well-supported in the transition from in-person to online instruction, the section seems quite incomplete. It seems to assume the readers are are faculty at a university teaching credit courses. There is no discussion of huge parts of the educational market such industry training courses, special interest courses, training sessions, and many other types of online instruction. I don’t see me in the section “Is this you” (pp. 5 -6).

Similarly, the “definition of a course” section (pp. 6-7) misses the mark for me. My longest courses are 6 weeks, while I often teach courses in industry that are 1/2 day or 1-5 days. Organizations often want to turn these types of courses into online learning experiences, to avoid the costs involved in running a classroom and having students and instructors in the same physical space.

The four stages of a course, as described on p. 13, do occur in the short course settings discussed above, so I’ll see to what degree the material offered later in the book (Chapter 5) is applicable and practical to use in my short courses.

Although not part of the reading assignment, pp. 13-22 of this chapter provides a succinct and, from what I can see with a quick read, a fairly accurate summary/listing of some of the major learning theories and major theorists. Figure 1-1 (“Influential Learning Theorists”) appears to be a good listing of theorists, since it contains many names that are familiar to me from my M.Ed. studies. However, it would take a great deal of reading to determine if the very brief summaries of their theories are accurate, so I’ll forgo doing that here.