Considerations for Online Teaching

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Online methods of teaching can support face-to-face instruction by allowing students opportunities for discussion, review of information and access to web-based resources (Baker, Foster, Cope, Boisvert, & Wallace, 2001; Campbell, Gibson, Hall,  Richards, & Callery, 2008; Kelly, Lyng, McGrath, & Cannon, 2009; Thomas & Storr, 2005).  Online learning resources offer students flexibility to learn at their own pace, view and review content when they choose from anywhere an internet connection is available (Cook & Dupras, 2004; Hall,  Drab, Campbell, Meyer, & Smith, 2007). Online teaching can be used to overcome geographic barriers, as well as allow students from different disciplines the opportunity to learn together (Walsh, 2007).  Online teaching is cost-efficient (eliminating the need for travel), flexible and supportive of work-life balance (Baker et al., 2001; Miers et al., 2007; Southernwood, 2008). 

In addition to the positive aspects, the literature has reported some problems with online teaching.  Instructors and learners require time to set up, register, learn the programs, and participate in online reading/discussions.  Lack of time has been cited as a barrier to online teaching/learning, similar to distance in face-to-face learning, in that it can be time-consuming (Peacock & Hooper, 2007).

Some users of online education methods have reported both software and hardware problems, slow internet connections, and a general lack of computer skills as a hindrance to participating in online teaching/learning while others have reported that participating in online learning has been an effective motivation to improve information technology knowledge and skills (Miers et al., 2007).  Technology support for all users is described to be critical to the success of online learning (Ali, Hodson-Carlton, & Ryan, 2004; Perlman, Weston, & Gisel, 2005). Periods of testing online resources by a small group of online learners when beginning a new program are necessary to iron out any wrinkles (Baker et al., 2001).

Requirements for Successful Online Teaching

For learning to occur online, the following must be present:  student-preceptor communication, student-student collaboration, active learning, prompt feedback, time limits on tasks, clear expectations, and respect for diversity in skills, knowledge and experience (Testa, 2000).

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Key Challenges

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