Online teaching is a complex topic because there are so many aspects to cover– and many roles for online teachers to fill. Online teachers must grapple with evolving technologies that communicate information. They have to manage that information, gathering it for assessment and feedback but also producing the content and learning materials that students will use. Teachers are called on to be media mogul, director, editor, star, scriptwriter and special effects whiz. It’s a daunting set of tasks.
Why do it?
Online teaching is what teachers are doing, using the available technologies to reach students. Prior to the Internet, before television and radio, teachers could stand in a classroom and lead students through activities, lecture and guide students through readings and teach in the space provided. The space has changed. Digital information systems are available that link teachers and students in powerful ways and across the planet. It’s crucial that teacher use the best methods, tools and techniques to support the teaching process.
The good news is, the tools and systems are getting easier to use and navigate. First and second generation technologies that required teachers to be computer technologists are giving way to easier-to-use applications and systems. When the first automobiles were produced every driver had to also be a mechanic. Cars became more complex as the technology changed, but the infrastructures supporting personal transportation– service stations, highways, streetlights and the rest– all became easier and safer to use. Today, online teaching and learning systems are at the early 20th century level of car and driver technology. It’s still good to know your way around under the hood, and there aren’t any airbags yet, but it’s getting better.