When I was a department chair and academic dean at a community college, I frequently dealt with students who had registered for online classes solely because they believed, mistakenly, that those courses would be easier.
Unfortunately, I also know some faculty members who gravitated toward online teaching -- initially, at least -- for much the same reason: They thought it would be less work. You don’t have to show up at the office every day, you can teach in your pajamas or watch Oprah while posting lecture notes, you don’t have to deal with people coming in late or cell phones going off in class.
I’m no expert in online pedagogy, but I have supervised a number of excellent online teachers over the years, along with some who were not so excellent. In the process, I’ve developed a pretty good feel for who can do it well and who can’t.
In my opinion, you probably shouldn’t teach online if:
- Your cell phone only makes phone calls.
- You still get ink smudges on your fingers from reading the news.
- The only reason you registered for a Facebook page was to see what your kids are up to.
- Your word-processing program doesn’t even recognize the word “Facebook.”
- The attraction of Tweeting completely escapes you.
- You played “Pong” on your Atari system . . . last night.
- Your favorite Web sites are FailBlog and PeopleofWalmart.com.
- Teaching in your pajamas sounds like something you’d enjoy.
- You actually own pajamas.
- Your idea of distance education has more to do with distance than with education.
No doubt that list of negative attributes would be longer if I were more technologically savvy myself. Perhaps those of you who are genuine techno-geeks could come up with a few more indicators of virtual unfitness?