In higher education, online learning has suddenly become the focus of administrators, teachers, students, and even many parents around the world. While teaching a course online has long been an option for many higher education faculty, most have chosen not to, preferring the more traditional, face-to-face interactions and set schedule of a “brick and mortar” classroom.
Yet faced with nation-wide campus closures as a response to COVID-19, most faculty have adapted to remote teaching using online technology to finish out the year. Even now, administrators are deliberating if and how online courses should be the norm come fall start.
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Our nationwide crash course in online learning is underway
While not new, online education has long been a second-class citizen in higher education. Despite research that regularly shows no significant difference in learning outcomes, online courses are less desirable to many — especially teachers. The prejudice against online courses is in part due to their association with degree mills, or based on individual experiences with poorly designed or independent study online courses, or perhaps simply because online courses are necessarily different than what we are used to in physical classrooms.