Students’ Impression of Instructor’s Video Online: Computers & Writing 2009

She has taught online since 2003. This is about her online classes.

Not being able to get good notes. She chose white letters and deep blue background. It is hard to read it. This is hard to follow because of that.

Apparently I missed the announcement that says you need to say what you are going to tell the audience. I know that is more normal in social sciences, but I’ve never seen it before in an English conference.

one on one video conferencing
virtual office hours

personal introduction
course orientation
reading assignments

She uses Skype and Tegrity.

You are creating video.

Her materials come in three formats: text, audio, and video. Oh my goodness! I cannot imagine going over this stuff three times.

She got a theater colleague to read the essay aloud as one of her text presentations.

New instructor roles
1. “one-man band” video production person
2. anchorperson

What level of professionalism is required for movie itself?
Is it okay if it is blurry? if it’s dark? if the light is flourescent?
Is the teaching enough? Are the students looking for something else?
Does the poor video quality impact the instructor’s professional image?
Does the background, dress, etc impact the instructor’s professional image?

You need a shooting checklist.
(I could use Ron’s studio, while he still has that.)

Think about composition.

Technical issues for putting the video on the web. It takes a lot of space. Institutional limits can be a problem.

Will the student like it? Will the student view it?

It’s a good thing that their third person didn’t show up.

Do you dress up? Do you pay attention to colors? Does it matter?

Performance anxiety.
The first 3 minute introduction to my students took 5 hours.

Plan a lot.
Develop a routine.
Know your equipment and your software.

Students’ perception
like personalized instruction
next best thing to f2f
talk back to video
no misunderstanding in communication – written comments can sound harsh without instructor’s facial expression (They are more likely to accept what I say when it’s on video, rather than written.)
No skimming or scanning as in text, no holistic overview

Students watching assignment
issues of technology
time and energy investment
read faster than view

Won’t even call the help desk. This is an issue related to my talk.

Google Earth

At CCTE this year, I attended a presentation by the UT Computer Writing Lab on using Google Maps for research projects in composition.

Then I read this on Poynter Online:

Blogger Frank Taylor recently wrote about homemade street views, a cool Google Earth trick that could be an intriguing online news tool.

The example Taylor used is from Taiwan, where “Google Earth fanatic” Steven Ho lives. Taylor wrote:

“[Ho] has been waiting for signs Google would bring Street View to Taiwan, but finally couldn’t wait any longer. So, he spent a few days making his own street view panoramas for National Taiwan University’s campus.

“It turns out March is the month when the Indian azalea bloom, so he decided to take his street view photos along the famous Royal Palm boulevard. Steven took the time to not only take 150 panoramas, but also process his KML [Keyhole markup language, which is to Google Earth what HTML is to Web browsers] so it looks and acts just like Google Earth’s Street View imagery. He also added in some 3D buildings for the campus and the palm trees.”

googleearth_british-islesVery cool.

Since I am having to teach my students how to type, I am not sure I’m going to be able to implement the Google Maps research project anytime soon. But it is a cool idea.

Teaching sociology students

One of the things I do is teach sociology students.  So I was interested in a post by one of my regular blog reads entitled “Sociology: An Evil ‘Science’.”

It starts with an interesting premise “I’ve returned to the university as an online student after a 33-year absence from academia.” Since I’ve been thinking more about online teaching (and will be taking a class in order to be an online teacher), I was very interested in that for reasons other than sociology.

But his discussion of sociology was interesting too.

Sociology is less of a “science” than a cult, or even a belief system that has underlying assumptions, such as the assumption that “the system,” particularly the capitalist variety, is inherently unfair, and that our society is replete with victims who are being treated unfairly, i.e. various racial groups, feminism etc.

It is an interesting discussion and a description I have not come across in academia before. I wonder how many of my sociology students would agree with it.

Then it goes into why sociology is evil.

Online classes v. traditional classes

Dr. Sunny Jiang Schultz of Lee College spoke on the topic of “The Byte is Mightier than the Pen” on Friday, March 6, at CCTE’s State of the Profession at UT-Austin’s AT&T Conference Center.

She spent less than twenty minutes talking about her online classes versus her traditional classes for the same course, though she has a significantly longer paper available. However, in that time, she managed to convince me that online courses have great potential to be better composition courses.

She did a comparison of completed assignments between her traditional (f2f) and online (net) classes.

Quiz questions: f2f 83, net 140
Sentence revision: f2f 2, net 4
Summaries: f2f 2, net 4
Elaborations: f2f 1, net 2
Papers: f2f 3, net 3
Short paragraphs: f2f 10, net 50
Library usage: f2f 2, net 10 (through data base accesses for required assignments)

stud-w-computer-from-above-bigAnother aspect of her presentation that I especially appreciated was her discussion of how she works with her students to make sure that they are prepared for and committed to an online course. She provides a week and a half for the students to complete a very detailed online orientation. If they do not finish that, she drops them. If they aren’t committed, they won’t be able to do the course and both they and she will know it right away.

My favorite metaphor from her talk was when she said, “Writing skills are becoming an endangered species.”

Online Education Benefits Everyone


college_studenta-1Online education offers the students the opportunity to work around their personal and professional lives while still getting an education because they can take advantage of learning opportunities at a time that is appropriate for them.

The need to juggle competing schedules is eliminated. Students will not be faced, as my son was this semester, with three required classes all offered at the same time.

Students who are geographically isolated can use online courses to complete their education.

Students can receive a better education. While some perceive face-to-face courses as more rigorous, traditional classrooms often have fewer writing assignments (Schultz). This is because an online class is conducted through online writing. Since one of the goals of an education is to learn to communicate effectively, this aspect of online education can only be considered beneficial.


teacher-and-student-on-computersTeachers also can work when most appropriate for them.  

Online courses can save money.  Teachers won’t have to pay for gas and wear and tear on their cars.  

Working online can also potentially save time. One teacher compared her traditional and online classes. When she put all her class-related time together, she spent 234 minutes per student online and 441 minutes per student in face-to-face classes (Thomas).


money-desk-cityOnline education offers a significant cost savings when classes are not using the physical campus. My college offered eleven different English courses online in the fall of 2008, which meant over forty classes did not meet in classrooms.

The college has students attending, and paying fees, from all over the state because students do not have to live nearby to attend. This means an increase in revenue.

At a time when the economy is problematic and an education is more important than ever, online classes can benefit everyone involved.

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