I was very impressed by the high level of insight from the Great Debates assignment. Judging from the issues that students wrote about, many sympathized with student retention rates and lack of communication. Perhaps this is due to most of us understanding the issue from a student lens, or being very compassionate teachers. This gave me faith in the future of educators!
Despite the challenges of limited physical interaction and teacher presence that students discussed, there were plenty of solutions offered by the opposing side which spoke about the live synchronous solutions offered by Zoom and similar platforms. I noticed that collaborative learning opportunities and increased teacher presence resonated with most people as opposed to cognitive presence. Most students defended the benefits of online learning and how it can be successful when implementing the COI framework correctly.
One of the things that remains unclear for me is how the education and instructional design field requires many qualities that all educators might not have. There might be awesome course designers, but they may lack presence. There may be an educator who is awesome with building relationships with students, but be a poor course designer. I’m wondering if there is room for specialization and division of labor. Could there be room for educational institutions to hire Instructional Designers that create great material and navigable courses, and then have the professors do what they do best. I would think that asking for professors to wear all of these hats can be stressful.
Since I started this class, I’ve learned so much and see online learning as much more than just loading reading material into Canvas. It requires careful planning, design, and commitment from the teacher. The need to be available to learners to direct learning expectations and provide constant feedback remains the same, just like in-person instruction. Having taught high school students, I understand how exhausting this can be for teachers, but it the the core tenet of what being an educator is. The commitment to helping students and being there for them remains the same both offline and online.
I love being and educator and after seeing my peers engage in these debates, it really gave me pride in this profession.