A wise humanities faculty member once said to me, “Please no more talk about academic innovation. Instead, let’s talk about good maintenance and upkeep.”
I think the next iteration of online and hybrid education should follow such an approach. It’s time to move away from the debate about whether it’s worse or better than x or y or it is/was/will be an over-hyped failure or a massive sea change. It’s here. It’s staying. Let’s make the most of it.
Thus far, online learning has largely appealed to innovators and early adopters who enjoy experimentation and view these classes as an act of love. As a result, many online courses are at least equivalent and often superior to face-to-face classes. However, there is the danger that as online learning becomes more pervasive, average quality will decline, mimicking the unevenness we see in face-to-face classrooms.
We can do better, and should.
Online learning offers an opportunity to reinvent our classes more intentionally, incorporating what we have learned from the learning sciences. We can make learning outcomes more explicit, design activities aligned with our learning goals, and create assessments that truly measure student achievement.
Higher education is undergoing a paradigm shift. Let’s seize this chance to bring our courses to a higher level.