JudiK's bio

Teaching and Administering Distance Education Practices

"Distance education is no longer the great evil. Many DE techniques and strategies are used in more traditional learning environments. In fact, it is often said that the distance between a lecturer and a student is greater than the distance between teachers and students in DE environments. This is difficult to pull off as a teacher, and even more difficult from the administrative side. There are competing forces at work. Still, we're all on the same time, aren't we?"

Mark Walbert -
Pete Sands -
Judi Kirkpatrick -
Susan Lang -
Joel English -
Trish Harris -
Cynthia Jeney -

Judi Kirkpatrick – "Distance education is no longer the great evil."

The concept of students learning outside the brick and mortar confines of the traditional scheduled, teacher-paced, minute-counted class threatens many educators. The notion of not being in the same room with students causes some teachers to claim that their teaching could never be as effective as when they have the oral interaction with their students.

I ask "how do you know that?"

Until we challenge ourselves, our colleagues, our departments, programs, colleges, and administrators, to pay attention to the possibilities that emerge in the online classroom, we cannot make these claims. Go into the online teaching mode with your eyes wide open though. First, pay attention to what has happened to a good chunk of our curriculum. Do you know who's administering and delivering your program's credit curriculum through traditional external outreach and extension programs, allowing our credit courses to be delivered by someone else, somewhere else in our college or university? I challenge faculty to retrieve their credits and to ensure quality and equal rigor to whatever the delivery mechanism for all your departmental courses.

That should come first.

At a New England community college, 600 credit courses are being taught this semester through an extension service. Faculty knew they were offered, but did not know much more than that besides the numbers. What they did know was that they were curious about trying teaching distance courses, but with the precedent taking the distance courses out of their hands, what were they to do???
          At a Texas university, hundreds of fycomp courses are taught semester by semester by teachers not part of the university's writing program or English department. In fact, this writing program has woken up, and is recovering their courses. More of our colleagues need to wake up to this conundrum and make clear the standards and best practice guidelines for their writing programs, whatever the mode of delivery.
          Thus I challenge the best teachers amongst us to deliver a quality distance-delivered degree program for your students, to work collaboratively with like-minded faculty towards providing students with comparable outcomes that any student in the brick and mortar classroom would have as he/she leaves your program. The very best teachers are best equipped to take the new tools of the technological and information revolution and harness them for best possible use, developing models for good practice. The more teachers become practiced users themselves, the more their teaching will be transformed. The online and hybrid programs we develop in our systems will reflect our standards and our best practices. We should not let our students down by ignoring the potentials of designing academic experiences through credit classes in online learning environments.