Friday, October 09, 2009

Reading Response: Of Online Classes and discrimination

Normally, I try to remember that student journalists are students, in college to learn the art and craft of journalism. I try to leave their opinions alone and keep from responding, especially as a teacher might. However, there are times when I just can't stop myself from providing one of these guys either a strong pat on the back for a job well done or a little extra education.

The following is in response to an article entitled "Online classes discriminate against less-connected" by Brad Powers. It was published in the online version of The East Texan. I had tried to leave a comment, but got an "error" message that said my email address (which I have used for 12 years) is "invalid." Thus, I share it with you.

I am an alum of your school and I also have been teaching online, hybrid, and "face to face" classes for a number of years. These questions seem fine on the surface, but the attacks on professors in this editorial are out of line and show that you have not really looked at all sides of the issue.

A few years ago, the term "digital divide" was used to identify the problem you are writing about: that the poor and others could not have access to technology (or did not have access others more fortunate did). That has not completely gone away despite computer labs and other resources more and more colleges have. But it is getting better.

Calling professors lazy shows you have not taken the time to talk to one. You need to find out just how much work it takes to put together online elements for a course and to maintain those courses. You obviously are not sitting in the same damn seminars teachers all over the country have to where we-- after working late not only putting together syllabi or tests, had to deal with putting the material online in a way that fits some other person's idea of a user-friendly format-- have to listen to some blowhard tell us that our students are "digital natives" and that we (backwards professors) are "digital immigrants."

In most schools, students do have choices and can enroll in classes with no online components. There are still many professors who are willing to teach the "old fashioned" way. Note also that those who are not "technologically inclined" are often people making excuses to avoid gaining the computer literacy they will need to be employed once they leave school.

Why didn't you, before spouting off, ask even one teacher the questions you pose in this article? Why didn't you consider that NO change in the way classes are taught is going to make every student happy? Why didn't you look at the whole story before trying to give the impression that professors had some sort of agenda? Why didn't you do your homework?

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