Posted by: Kenn Hermann | January 7, 2008

The New Environment for Teaching Online

How bizarre has the teaching profession become with the coming of the internet? Here I am sitting at Midway airport in Chicago during a seven-hour delay to catch my flight home. (It’s thundering and raining furiously during this balmy Chicago day.) Midway has accommodated laptop users by installing long laptop counters and stools at each gate where travelers can sit down, plug in, and tune out. (The energy cost must be significant, judging by the large number of users at the counters.) Not only am I plugged in, but I have internet access via my wireless air-card. So, here we all sit, row by row, pounding away at our keyboards in our ‘virtual’ world while staring out at the ‘real’ world. Talk about ‘community.’

What am I doing? Why, I am ‘teaching’ my first online course of the semester, of course. This is only the first day so it is only introductory — checking to be sure that all students are registered, all of the course materials are properly posted, and all of the anxious first-time students are calmed down. My students are scattered all across the nation, so it is a challenge to keep tabs on them. Oh, I hear my flight is finally boarding; have to go get in line now . . . .

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