I enjoyed reading the articles this week and I was not surprised to read that many of the characteristics found in an effective face-to-face teacher are the same as those found in an effective online teacher. As I was reading the articles, I felt like I had a lot of “duh” moments. Of course an effective online teacher needs to be knowledgeable in their content area, provide timely feedback, monitor student progress, etc. I think so many similarities exist because they are critical to any kind of learning experience. If you took out all of the “virtual learning” key words in many of the teachers’ quotes from the Michigan Virtual Schools article, they could easily translate to behaviors that you would wish to see in a face-to-face setting. We need to remember that online teaching is still teaching; there is no reason to disregard face-to-face best practices that can still be applied in an online experience. There was one statement in the Michigan Virtual Schools article that said, “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).” I agree that great in one setting may not be great in another setting but because so many of the best practices overlap, I think that becoming truly immersed in the technology piece is the biggest area of growth during the transition to an online setting. Taking the time to explore new technologies can help an online course go from good to great.
The only major differences in best practice between a classroom and online setting would maybe be the discipline issue. It’s not that one has it and one doesn’t, they’re just different. In an online setting my biggest discipline concern would be cheating. It seems so hard to monitor that for a completely online experience. There is also the possibility of inappropriate posts on discussions. You would not have to worry about the same things you do in a classroom (disruptive behaviors, talking with friends, etc.) And OMG…no one asking to go to the bathroom 🙂 That would be a nice change 🙂
I am not sure what best practices are missing. I am hoping to find that out as the course progresses. Although the research focused on teachers from different content areas, the results were still reported as a whole group. It would be interesting to see if there were certain best practices available for different contents. I don’t really think there would be much variation in practices but maybe some ideas specific to content areas. In science for example, what programs do you use that make it easier to type formulas or chemical equations within a learning module or discussion board?