The emerging technology has had great influence in the learning environment. The use of technology has helped many individuals to access quality education without being subjected to the classroom hustles. Although online teaching has been considered as an effective learning method, it has some contention among educators. Over the last teaching sessions, I have realized that there are significant differences between online experiences and class-based teaching methods.
Before joining the online teaching fraternity, I had expected the work intensity to be less than that in the class-room setting. This is because I had anticipated that, since there was no direct interaction with the students, I would be rarely subjected to pressure. The class-room setting appeared to be more demanding as the students’ presence meant being more prepared. However, the online setting emerged as more demanding as it required more preparation for effective delivery (Bull et al, 2005). The organizational skills were also required in the online teaching process, taking that instructors had little information about their students.
The online teaching experiences were marred by increased workload, which was unexpected at the start of the teaching program. Due to the simplicity associated with online learning, teaching is also perceived as a less demanding process. It was therefore very hard adapting to the increased workload especially when preparing and organizing the teaching materials. The expectations from the students of having constant responses from the instructors also increase the workload and interfere with the daily schedules of the instructors. I found out that I had to reschedule most of plans in order to be available for my students’ especially those attached to various healthcare institutions.
I feel that the online teaching experience should be enhanced by face-to-face interactions in order to encourage making plans with the students on the appropriate schedules as well as the right times for discussions. Opening up would also be encouraged through face-to-face interactions, as the instructor can make out, through application of the social presence theory (Aragon, 2003). Through the social presence theory, there would have been more quantity input as well as larger output from the students. Encouraging students to open up and give their background information is possible mostly through face-to-face interactions.
The other problem that I encountered was that of changing the roles from being an instructor to a facilitator. In addition, I was acting like a coach, rather than a lecturer, as I had earlier anticipated. This made the teaching process even more stressful, due to the changes that I had to adjust to in order to make the process a success. Te lack of direct teaching presence changed my role from being a knowledge dispenser, to an individual whose role entailed providing learning resources. The seriousness as well as the commitment had to be more since the student’s expected more from my input, rather than from their own efforts. I found out that I had to do more than the student’s taking that the student’s perceived the process as a passing and as a direct avenue to acquisition of knowledge.
The teaching strategies were also affected by the online process. While I had anticipated the teaching technologies to be easy, I found out that they were more demanding and some of them appeared to be more complex. This was influenced by the faculty’s initiative to improve the face of online teaching, but this was done at the expense of our teaching strategies. While class-room setting encouraged teacher-student interaction, the online forum barely gave ample opportunities to the instructor to know the strengths and weaknesses of the students. This means that the teaching strategies and formulas could not apply, seeing that the students were less known to the educators.
The faculty should establish an appropriate strategy that will encompass the diverse characteristics of online students in order to make teaching them possible. Establishment of direct face-to-face interactions, even once per academic year would provide for an appropriate way of reducing the pressures present in the online teaching frameworks. The class size should also be reduced in order to give the instructor enough time to prepare and deliver effectively. The presence of diverse communities at different parts of the world with different expectations require appropriate strategies in order to make the teaching process less demanding and less tiresome.
Although teaching online students is more thrilling and contributed significantly to professional growth, it requires that colleges establish proper delivery means as well as students’ monitoring programs to make sure that both parties are satisfied. In some instances, it was hard to demonstrate some nursing concepts comprehensively, taking that only video demonstrations were possible. The students’ understanding could not be properly evaluated and for this reason, the faculties should be well prepared to establish practical venues in different parts for easier access by students.
The experiences gained through the teaching practice made me aware of the challenges as well as the professional opportunities available in technology. The expectations from both students and instructors can only be satisfied if the institutions formulate strategies focused on improving the learning environment.
Aragon, S. R. (2003). Creating social presence in online environments. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 20 (100), 57-68.
Bull, G., Knezek, G., Roblyer, M. D., Schrum, L., & Thompson, A. (2005). A proactive approach to a research agenda for educational technology. Journal of Research on Technology in Education 37(3), 217-220