Vol. 5. No. 1 INT April 2001
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Interview with an Online Instructor (Part 5)

Jim Duber
duber dot com

JD: Can you list some of the major advantages and then also the disadvantages of teaching online?

MES: Well, I think the advantages are the...kind of anytime/anywhere options. That is,...I can be communicating with students at eleven o'clock at night, whereas in a traditional setting, that's less likely, of course. It also does allow for a lot of flexibility in materials: adding things to the web site, clarifying things, putting up a new link as you discover new materials that might be suitable. That happened in the concordancing section, where I ran across an article that I thought clarified things for students in a way the other ones they had hadn't. So, I was able just to put up a really quick link and say, "Here, take a look at this additional article." So, that kind of flexibility and sort of 24/7...capabilities of the technology are really the advantage. And, ironically, it's the same answer for the disadvantages. The 24/7 kind of availability of the instructor is tiring. And again, you need really good time-management skills not to let it overwhelm you. Ditto for the flexibility of the course materials: because you can add materials all the time, you tend to add materials all the time. Whereas in a face-to-face class, you may not do that quite as much, especially if you're confronted with various kinds of budgetary issues--like not having students run out to buy an additional book, or not having any photocopying budget left over to make a set of photocopies of an article in the newspaper.

JD: Yeah, but you could always add it to a web site.

MES: You could always add it to a web site and that's how face-to-face classes are getting to be even more work...because they're turning into both face-to-face and distance classes all in one.

JD: Right. And that combination is probably the best of both worlds. That's a great solution. Anyway, thanks very much for your time, Dr. Sokolik.

MES: You're welcome.

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