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Professor Nina Kohn: Move Class Online ... But Do It Right

Posted on Monday 3/23/2020
Nina Kohn

(Syracuse.com | March 19, 2020) With coronavirus surging, universities around the country have shuttered physical classrooms and moved classes online. These changes have been met with concern that the result will be substandard education, and educational experts have warned that faculty will be unable to create engaging online courses on short notice. But online education is not necessarily inferior, and low expectations risk creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

High quality education can be delivered online. There is ample research on online education, including in higher education, that shows that it can be an effective modality for teaching both concepts and skills. Whether moving on-campus courses online requires fundamental changes in teaching methodologies to avoid sacrificing quality depends, in large part, on the online format.

Many people equate online education with self-paced (or “asynchronous”) methods that lack real-time interaction. The creation of high-quality, interactive, self-paced classes often requires faculty to rethink how they teach and takes a considerable investment of resources. This investment may be worthwhile as the self-paced format can encourage reflective learning and make education accessible to students with inflexible schedules due to work or care-giving obligations. However, it means that it is unrealistic to expect faculty or universities to be able to rapidly pivot to high-quality, asynchronous instruction …

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