Content v. Delivery  August 1, 2006Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
Unfortunately, the authors based their article on the premise that the professor, someone who has attended scores of advanced courses in university and has taught scores of classes in the old-fashioned face-to-face manner has very few insights into the process of nuanced instruction. The problem with the article is that an overly simple polemic is created in which there is content and there is the online learning environment. True, there are two different worlds but situations in which the “Lone Ranger” approach to creating an online course alone is foolhardy at best, there is a certain offhanded attitude in the article that suggests the content encumbered professor cannot be counted on to have valid insights into instructional design.
To me, this argument is the beginning of a rift in higher education that we must address right now before we create a separation between content and delivery. Such rifts will eventually only be bridged with arcane terminology, refined software, and highly technical skill sets. I embraced the development of course management systems because I saw them doing precisely the opposite. They were helping professors to understand and learn from their experiences of teaching online.
Last semester, I taught a course with an over abundance of technological tools knowing that some would not work. In that case, we quickly abandoned personal blogs and online meetings that were reliant on video cameras. We replaced them with drop boxes and text only meetings. For the professor, the ability to experiment while teaching was both worthwhile and instructive. The failures and successes will inform my future online teaching. I believe professors, many of them, are sensitive to the moods of their students as they tackle complex concepts and they know, instinctively, when to speed up or slow down, when to push and when to praise. I am not so sure about the instructional technologists. They have much to offer but this article sets up the argument that professors are lost without them and they disparage professors with years of experience in the classroom as “Long Rangers.”
Such an approach to creative problem solving is not effective. In fact, the article parallels what passes for political discourse today and that is certainly no endorsement.