Learning and Teaching the the Internet Age
The end of holiday celebrations and the onset of the New Year signals the resumption of the serious business of teaching and learning at the university. In Chicago we have been savoring the atypical weather, with only occasional flurries and unseasonable high temperatures, but know that it is time to move indoors to pursue the quieter intellectual activities of a Midwestern winter. With the flip of the calendar page, the new academic term approaches. Filled with hope, curiosity and the promise of new knowledge and insights, school will reconvene in mid-January.
Rather than fill the interim pursuing a part time jobs or total relaxation, several of our motivated students have opted for a two-week intense J-term class. This is the second year Loyola has offered this option and the second time I have taught a J-term course online. I am delighted to find that the students appear to be comfortable and successful with technology that is new to most of them. After six days of class (which included Saturday), they are working hard and are demonstrating their newly acquired knowledge on homework assignments, class discussions and tests. They are enthusiastic and involved during our 2-hour daily gatherings in our virtual classroom. Happily, their dedication and hard work are taking them at least one course closer to graduation.
The online initiative is not new to Loyola. Several of our schools have online graduate degree programs. The Quinlan School will continue to add undergraduate and graduate courses and our goal is to continuously improve teaching and learning effectiveness and to meet students’ needs. In addition, the Intercontinental MBA program is an unique combination of online and on-the-ground learning that takes place on four continents. To combine the resources of the Internet with the opportunities for learning that are found by living in an emerging market context is an opportunity that technology makes possible.
We are fortunate that the Adobe Connect software is flexible and fairly intuitive. This is the fourth online course that I have taught. Each time I become more comfortable with the process and sometimes forgot that this is a new for my young students. My hope is that they will comment on the experience so that others will know both the advantages and the pitfalls. From my perspective as a teacher, I have found that the ability to teach online has altered my class meeting time and hopefully created a venue for more, rather than less, student discussion and engagement.