As I reflect this week on the LEC course I’m taking (see last week’s post for more info), I’m realizing the benefits and challenges to teaching online. I can see many benefits for me as an instructor, especially since I feel that I am personally a lot more articulate in writing, though then I feel that the group that I am instructing would definitely shift from the primary to middle school or higher. That’s because I cannot foresee being able to teach a group of second graders from a strictly online setting. There is too much need for movement, need for support, need for that bond between people interacting in the same physical space.
If I shifted into an online teaching setting, it would be a lot easier to let students slip through the cracks. Sure, I would see a red dot if they didn’t turn in an assignment, or might notice if they are struggling to turn in all their assignments at the last moment (see: me), but it’s so much easier to focus on those who are posting all the questions and responses. You might send an email or even (gasp) call the student who is falling behind, but what can you really do? It took sitting down with a couple students in 4th grade for about 2 hours after school with their parents keeping them in the room, to get them past their anxiety about multiplication. For a student who would avoid it so much in person, what hope would I have to reach them online? That is one of the many reasons I don’t think I would move into a solely online environment. When you’re working students who need additional support, I think the in-person approach is needed even more, although it definitely can (and should) be connected with some online learning as well.