Best Practices (Brent Fleisher)

I don’t see much differences in the expectations for online teachers vs. face-to-face instruction.  The list of skills discussed in Section IV of NEA’s Guide to Learning doesn’t seem that new or foreign.  Aren’t these skills that all teachers should naturally possess — not just relevant to online instructors?  Education is education and teaching is teaching… I don’t see why there needs to be this feeling of a special set of skills / instructions / expectations for online teachers simply because they are teaching a course online.  Online instructors are no more special than face-to-face instructors and to offer a specified set list of expectations that they should already be familiar with (they are teachers, after all) is a little insulting.  To put another way, isn’t this all common sense practice?  I can see many teachers pulling out their laptops and grading if they had to sit through something like that for professional development… this isn’t new — tell us something we don’t already know.  It’s sad that we cannot seem to get new information on best practices, as Monty pointed out, since it is very surprising there isn’t that much (new) research out there.

I acknowledge that there is no 100% transfer of skill sets from face-to-face to online.  Even “Best Practices…” states: “The direct transference of good instructional practice in face-to -face settings does not always translate to good teaching in online environments (Davis & Roblyer, 2005). Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the different set of skills for teaching in online learning environments.”  I still believe a good teacher is a good teacher – regardless of the medium he or she is to operate in.  A solid teacher should not have major issues in transferring their course work from a face-to-face environment to an online environment (especially in today’s society).  While I disagree that transference of coursework is a major concern, I still hold fast to the idea building relationships is a struggle online (see previous blogs).

One question that has been bugging me regarding either best practices or just online teaching in general is how to hold students accountable.  It seems that when students have access to “whatever” on the internet their accountability lessens as they can just google the answer/information at their whim… it is very hard to gauge individual thought.  Also, how do we even know that the student him/herself is the one actually doing the work?  Isn’t it possible (likely??) that a parent or friend is there doing it for them?  How do you know that I am the real Brent Fleisher?  This isn’t reserved just for online instruction, but I see it extremely more applicable to it.  Even in face-to-face we are faced with students not doing their own work (just last year I had a parent get mad at me for a student’s low essay score…only to tell me that she wrote it and was insulted… needless to say, the student didn’t earn any credit then…#waytothrowyourownchildunderthebus).

13 thoughts on “Best Practices (Brent Fleisher)”

  1. I love your story about the parent – priceless! I agree that good teaching is good teaching. However, I’m not sure that all “good” teachers have the ability to create a “teacher presence” online. Just like some people have difficulty being recorded on video some people are challenged when it comes to interacting through text. I think it becomes a greater challenge when students do not see your face or body language. Sometimes I have to become very animated in front of my class to get a point across. We lose that when we are just using text.

  2. Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

    Haha-couldn’t resist. Humor aside, I totally agree with the feeling that the best practices were common sense for all teachers regardless of face-to-face or online. However, I think it’s really important to provide a presence online that a teacher will have to work harder to establish than in a face-to-face classroom. In that respect, a little more effort is required because online students can be so independent. I share your concern about the trust that needs to exist in an online class environment. I tend to gravitate toward the good in people and could use a little more skepticism in my perspective sometimes, but I think you have to just trust they are doing the right then until you catch them doing otherwise.

    And good grief on that parent! To do the work, but then to rat themselves out like that?? Double crazy.

  3. Brent, I think you and I both agree on good teaching being good teaching no matter the medium. We both know that students will try and find as many short cuts to learning as they possibly can. It is our responsibility as teachers to try and hold them accountable! How can we possibly know what they are doing if we never have direct contact with our students? I agree…. It is not the transference of knowledge to the online platform that will be challenging… it will be the difficulty in developing relationships with students and the ability to hold students accountable for their actions.

  4. Brent,
    I too have been concerned about accountability in online courses. I would like to think that students would be honorable, but unfortunately have been proven wrong many times. I am very curious to see if any studies or data is available for dealing with this issue.

  5. Brent, you bring up a great point with accountability in online education while recognizing that its something we struggle with even “face to face”. I had the same issue with a parent completing work for their child. How can we be sure our students (especially at the lower levels when parents are more likely to be more directly involved) are actually doing the work and meeting the standards they need to meet to earn credit and master the material? Obviously this isn’t going to be an issue with each and every student but its worth addressing.

  6. Great post. I was getting ready to ask you how you know your f2f students’ work is there own, but you addressed that yourself. I agree that many skills transfer from f2f to online, and in general good teaching is good teaching, but i do think teaching online has aspects which differ from f2f. I think digital communication is just different than f2f. The underlying pedagogy is often the same. For example, we need to check for understanding when presenting information, but that is done very differently f2f and online. You know what I mean?

  7. So, it is much better to control on your own as well as maintain your hands far from your face as well as wash your face multiple times throughout the day.

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