Virtual Teaching and Learning

#OLTAK Week 4 Reflection

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This week I gained a lot of insight on the endless versatility of virtual teaching. Nicole has cool robots, internet games can serve as a fun lesson plan, and not all MOOCs are built the same.

As an employee at UAA, I belong to the AFT teachers union and receive their On Campus publication. Honestly, I don’t spend much time pouring over it when it comes…I’m busy. But this week, as I was sitting at my desk, I happened to glance over and see the cover of the last publication and the featured article “MOOC Disrupters: Can faculty ensure massive open online courses provide quality and opportunity?” How timely…

 On the first page, Randi Weingarten, AFT president addresses some of the potential shortcomings of the “new trend” of MOOCs. She says… “MOOCs have the potential to be used as tools to expand access to higher education and supplement what instructors offering the classroom, but also to marginalize faculty and cheapen education in pursuit of profits or cost savings.”

 She reminds us of the promises to students in higher education to ensure instruction is rigorous, that all students may attain an education, and that students will be taught with diversity and dignity that will enhance their personal and professional lives, “ensuring that students are taught and mentored by faculty and staff that are well prepared, professionally supported…”

 She goes on to say “…many uses of technology fracture and marginalize the role of a professional faculty. While technology, when properly used, can play a positive role in broadening access to and supplementing faculty instruction, it is not a substitute for  the faculty-student engagement that is at the core of a high-quality educational experience. Technology is not the solution to rising college costs. The systematic disinvestment in higher education this country has experienced has taken its toll on the core function in higher education – teaching” (Weingarten, 2014).


She makes an important point… not all MOOCs are built the same, and it’s vitally important that when developing online courses or massive open online courses, we remember that as instructors we have made a promise to teach, facilitate and guide learning. I think she’s playing the devils advocate to keep the reader on their toes when reading the method behind the madness in the development of MOOCs: the entire magazine is dedicated to articles that address the why, how, who will, who won’t, and how money comes into play with the rise of MOOCs. Pretty interesting and controversial fodder!!!
Sharing the information from my AFT journal has hopefully helped my fellow classmates consider the good with the bad when it comes to MOOCs. Through sharing personal experiences and validating thoughts as well as delving into subjects that other people have written about and providing new links to further encourage their teaching framework, I feel as if I’ve been an asset to our learning community this week. I’m looking forward to doing more development with the English group and am going to work on finalizing the goals we set out for ourselves last week and to narrow down more specific goals and a timeline. Whew! We’ve got our work cut out for us. Thank you though, to Jeff who created a great framework within a Blackboard shell that we will be able to take some guidance from. 🙂

Weingarten, R. (2014). Technology is no substitute for faculty-student engagement. On Campus: The National Publication of AFT Higher Education Faculty and Professional Staff, 33(2), 1.


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