A Peek at ‘Technology and Pedagogy Expectations for an In-Person Course’

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

Carrie Heeter’s “Technology and Pedagogy Expectations for an In-Person Course” reports on a study of Michigan State University students and instructors. Heeter is creative director of MSU’s Virtual University Design and Technology. What makes this report interesting and unique is that it focuses on students and instructors in “in-person” or F2F courses. The research question, in general, is: What are your views on the importance of a wide range of instructional technologies, including ones that are internet-based, in in-person courses? In this article, I’ve extracted select findings from the executive summary. (For the complete report and all the results, published 9 June 2010, click here.) My selections lean more toward students’ views and internet-related technology.

The study was conducted in fall 2009, with 165 MSU instructors and 735 students. The subjects “completed surveys about their technological and pedagogical expectations for a high quality, in person course in their discipline.” According to Heeter, “The evolving, ever-expanding array of increasingly sophisticated online tools for teaching and learning and the explosion of online information resources have transformed instructor and student expectations about good teaching.”

Carrie Heeter

Here are some of the findings, excerpted from the report, that I thought were interesting:

1. Outstanding “in person” courses are expected, by both students and instructors, to incorporate a wide range of online support and online learning activities.

2. In person course instructors are expected to organize and link to online external readings and relevant external web sites, interactive problem sets, simulations, and games.

3. Instructors are expected to structure and guide online discussions and blogs outside of class, in addition to their teaching role during the in person class time.

4. Students expect to receive regular emails from their instructors, to be able to access syllabi, grades, and class lists outside of class, and ideally, to view slide shows or lectures presented during live class online.

5. Class discussion extends beyond the classroom to online technologies, even for in person courses. Sixty-four percent of instructors considered a blog, wiki, or forum a critical component of a great in person course; 60% felt that online chat or Skype was necessary. Considerably fewer (37%) also relied on Twitter, Face Book, or other social networking.

6. Students were much more likely than were instructors to expect their in person class instructors to provide an online gradebook, online syllabus, and online weekly announcements. Students were more likely to want interactive online problem sets.

7. Students were considerably less enthusiastic about class discussion and group work in the classroom than were instructors. Students were more amenable to online discussion than they were to live classroom discussion.

8. Student interest in blogs and social networking [64%] paralleled that of instructors. Students were somewhat more interested in online chat or Skype than were instructors.

9. Some significant differences by class level were observed. Graduate level course expectations tended to be different from lower level class expectations. Some significant differences were also found by college. What constitutes great in person instruction does vary by discipline and course level.

10. Respondents were asked what they thought would be an ideal mix of live and online learning, selecting among the options of 3 hours live, 3 hours online, a mix of both, or offer both and let students choose. The least popular alternative for both instructors and students was fully online courses. However, the traditional 3 hours of live instruction option was selected by fewer than half of instructors and students. Students were much less favorable towards 3 hours of live classroom time than were instructors and were much more likely to want to be given a choice of either live or online.

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