By Jennifer Bunk, SIOP Blogger
I was going to write a blog post about MOOCs but I decided against it. I didn’t want to add to the chatter (as insightful as some of it may be). Also, there is so much apprehension and negativity surrounding MOOCs (and distance education in general) that I thought it would be nice to focus on the NOW and the POSITVE.
And right now, I am positive I love teaching online. Here are eleven reasons, in no particular order:
1. I was not forced to do it.
It’s quite unfortunate that some academics are forced to teach online. If you don’t want to teach online, you shouldn’t have to. I do it because I want to and that passion rubs off on my students.
2. It feeds my Inner Geek.
I have loved technology since I was in grade school and my dad bought our first computer (a Radio Shack TRS-80). It’s awesome that I get to combine my passion for technology with my passion for teaching.
3. It gives me another way to bond with my techie husband.
My husband is a Solutions Architect for a prominent software company. In short, he has a really good sense of what is possible in the online world. I feel so lucky that I get to “talk shop” with the love of my life.
4. I can do it in my jammies.
I think this is most useful when I’m sick because I don’t have to fret about whether or not to cancel class. I can simply get my work done while sipping warm lemon water from the couch.
5. Teaching online is more flexible than teaching face-to-face.
This one goes without saying. Because the work of online teaching can be done pretty much anytime, this means I can be more available to my students, my colleagues, my family, and myself.
6. Teaching online can be more engaging than teaching face-to-face.
This is a bit ironic and I could probably spend a whole blog post (or two) explaining the nuances of why. Here’s one main reason: Because online technology makes certain aspects of teaching more efficient, that means I can spend more time on the stuff that really matters, like communicating with students one-on-one and given them rich, timely feedback.
7. I like being a trailblazer.
I’m okay with change. Actually, I embrace change. Sometimes we need to shake thing up a bit to move forward. When I started my academic career, teaching solely face-to-face classes, it felt like I was jumping in on Season 12 of a must-see television show - everyone else knew what was going on and I was clueless. Because of the uncharted territory associated with distance education, I get to see the drama unfold along with everyone else.
8. I’m terrible at remembering names.
I don’t have a good memory for details, including names. This isn’t an issue in teaching online courses because student’s names are usually right in front of me. (This can be an issue, though, if you go to a local restaurant and the server says “Dr. Bunk? I’m taking your online I-O class!”)
9. I get to collaborate with others outside of my discipline.
In my quest to be a better online instructor, I have had the pleasuring of meeting people from other disciplines that know more than I do about effective online pedagogy. And this has been both humbling and eye-opening.
10. It is a unique challenge.
Designing an online course is hard. It’s super hard. This is the one theme that you hear over and over again when you ask people about developing their first online course. It requires you to take everything you thought you knew about teaching, turn it on its head, and return to fundamental questions like: What do I want my students to learn?
11. I get to spread the I-O gospel far and wide.
Online classes are pretty popular and most students have never heard of I-O psychology. I see this as an opportunity to propagate our discipline and demonstrate how immensely applicable it is to our lives.