The Fifth C: Computers, Special Interest Group Session, CCCC 1997
Sponsored by the CCCC Committee on Computers in Composition andCommunication
Eric Crump, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
Judi Kirkpatrick, Kapi'olani Community College, Honolulu, Hawai'i
Traci Gardner, The Daedalus Group, Austin, Texas
[1995, Washington][1996, Milwaukee] [1997,Phoenix] [1998, Chicago]
Session Report for the 1997 SIG
All the responses from folks at the 5th C SIG meeting are dividedbased on the reports of the discussion groups which met in Phoenix.
- Group One: How do we define teaching at a distance? What should be accept as a reasonable "teaching at a distance" paradigm? Are there substantive differences between distance education which includes students spread across a state or region and students who log on and participate from their dorm rooms on campus?
- What constitutes distance ed?
- Telecourses (TV courses, fiber optics), correspondence courses, online courses,tutoring.
- distance between the teacher and students in face-to-face.
- What leads to distance ed?
- Economics, rural situations, access issues, strategic connections between cooperating institutions, K12 and post-secondary linkages, weather.
- More students per instructor
Preparation time and course release
Need for distance ed should govern who can take the course. Dorm is not usually distance.
Campus politics --> might think fewer teachers are needed
Reproduce "push technology" model over interactive model
- Group Two: How are issues of promotion, tenure, and academic recognition affected by teaching at a distance? Are standard measures "one size fits all"? Can we ask the same questions about teaching excellence for distance and classroom-based teaching? For instance, are students who never see the teacher going to answer questions about the teacher's concern for the individual student in the same ways that students in a traditional classroom-based environment answer that question? How does peer review and class observation change when there is no classroom to observe -- only transcripts to read? What can we (what should we) accept as reasonable evaluation of the work we do when teaching at a distance?
- 'zines? referred publications
- college and institutional service -- community
- terms and translations
- department or college basis for statements
- What counts as what? Deal with loose ends.
- Group Three: How do we counter the arguments of economics, or what do we do when distance education decisions are based on untrue assumptions about the teaching load and the interaction with students when those students are not physically present? What are the misconceptions someone unfamiliar with the student-teacher interaction typical of writing instruction or with the workload required for teaching with computers is likely to make? At its most basic, how do we answer the administrator who cackles with glee about the development of distance classes because now the school can teach twice as many students online for half the cost?
- English department realistic about the costs of distance learning -- probably more expensive than traditional. Pressure comes from limitations of physical campus. 40K students on 30K size campus. Charge more per credit hour for classes online!
- Also willing to teach the technical part rather than considering it an innocent conduit
- Mandate from the state to offer distance ed. We should remind admins that video/audio delivery is expensive, and although text-based stuff is bandwidth cheap, it's labor intensive.
- Spanish distance learning in CA hasn't worked. Need to have contracts that specify what instructors are supposed to do -- are they responsible for tech support and troubleshooting as well as content teaching?
- Beware of overload
- School of education in Florida is going for the "telepresence" model, no limits on class size? Is there a way to get unions involved, or faculty governing boards?
- Can we also make contacts with students, students groups as well as unions-->Our working environment is your learning environment.
- 30/40 minutes per essay in distance type class, but multiplicity of word processors: how long does it take to convert/decode an essay, let alone comment on it? We need to set standards for software to make these kinds of classes work.
- Suggestions from our group:
- class size not to exceed traditional class size
- teachers need technical support
- maintain interactivity --> goal to value agency of the students, not make them passive
- teachers should not be asked to be available (via email, etc) more hours a day than they would be IRL
- we see a good future for distance learning IF it's done right
- CCCC should survey members, not only of this SIG, but all members, to find out how their schools are moving toward distance learning -- also what experiences people have already had with distance learning (stats, anecdotal, etc.)
- Group Four: What useful analogies can we draw between traditional classroom-based teaching and distance teaching? Are there things we should compare? things we shouldn't? And how do these analogies affect the way we think about, construct, and evaluate teaching at a distance? How does teaching (and learning) at a distance reshape, redefine, revolutionize what we think of as the university?
- Analogies and success depend on abilities and environment of students involved
- Students need to be self-motivated
- Conrad Scott-Curtis works with a gifted population from 4th graders through seniors in college -- people who are ahead of the rest of their class
- Patricia Hofer [?] worked with less gifted, less motivated students working 40 hours per week who couldn't find the time
- ANALOGY: Time spent in class is analogous to time spent online. This is at least as important for students who are considering distance learning as for faculty. This may be time spent in synchronous environments or simply time spent reading and writing asynchronous messages.
- ANALOGY: The time that it takes a faculty member to communicate with a class in a distance-learning environment is more analogous to holding a series of one-on-one conferences than it is to meeting a class for three hours a week. This point is important to make to administrators.
- ANALOGY: Universal or widespread distance education is analogous to a bad high school which crams students of all ability levels into the same classroom with the same assignments at the same speed. Distance education may be more appropriate for gifted students.
- ANALOGY: Distance education models are analogous to process-oriented models in the way they can provide individualized scaffolds for different students as they draft and revise.
- ANALOGY: Students need to be convinced that communicating online is analogous to talking (i.e., they need to learn to communicate spontaneously and easily on the computer) -- at least at times. We need to come up with assessment instruments for online courses, for assessment of the program -- both by people who've taken part in it and by faculty.
- Group Five: How do you handle the special challenges of teaching at a distance? How is teaching affected by students you never see? How do you maintain control when you can never raise your voice or ask everyone to focus on one topic? What special strategies do we need to foster in students to help them succeed in this setting? What coping strategies can help with the geographically decentered classroom?
- Different ways of delivery -- Distance Learning and how to combine them?
- TV/Cable Teaching
- Teleconferencing (works well, but there are limits)
- Lecture Mode must be considered a real danger
- Plagiarism issue very important. Cheating is seen as easy by outsiders. We need to handle this by knowing more about our students' writing abilities. Simple solutions: draft submissions
- Class size -- changes our relationship with our students and our abilities to teach effectively
- How to instruct the tentative student? Tone issues and miscommunication.
- Cultural communication issues as well (in our community, etc.) Especially in translocal classes
- Ripe situation for exploitation