Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Doing Online Right
Several of my recent posts have dealt with the negative aspects of the UC move to place courses online, but I want to clarify that many faculty members are currently using digital technologies in an effective manner. For example, many uc teachers are having their students produce web sites and analyze a wide range of web-based contents. There is also a growing use of digital courseware and class management systems, and many faculty employ online class discussions. Moreover, we are witnessing efforts to use digital and multimedia textbooks as we teach our students how to access and assess digital media. Finally, we already have thousands of classes that are either totally or partially online.
One reason the Regents may not know about the high level of digital activity in the UC system is because the Regents are not educators, and they have little knowledge of what really goes on in university classrooms. Unfortunately, the latest Regents meeting revealed that many of the UC administrators also do not know about the use of digital technologies in the UC system: we have online extension programs, we have networked classrooms, we have digital labs, and we have digital libraries – in fact, we may be one of the world leaders in high-tech education, but what we do not have is a replication of the University of Phoenix.
If you listen to the end of the discussion about online learning from the last Regents meeting, you will hear the exasperated Berkeley Chancellor Birgenou exclaim, “I have no idea what you people are talking about.” From my perspective, this was the new former Chancellor’s best moment. Yes, the Regents actually have no idea what is going on in the very institution they are supposed to be directing.