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My favorite thing about online teaching is...  

Use this thread to describe what you look forward to in your online courses.

My favorite thing about online teaching is the wide variety of students that take the course. Students generally range in age from 18 to 55 and have a diverse array of backgrounds, motivations and perspectives. The discussions, in particular, highlight this breadth. I enjoy getting to know everyone and making a personal connection, even if done entirely via computer!

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My favorite thing about online teaching is that students can take the course no matter where they are. In the courses I've taught, I've had several students who have moved out of Ohio and need only a few courses to complete their degree. Online classes give them the opportunity to do so.

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I agree with both Karin and Sheila completely. I'd like to add that I love the flexibility of schedule for both me and my students, and I love exploring digital media tools for delivery.

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The flexibility has been key to me for the last 15 years. I started teaching on-line at University of South Florida when my first child was born, and kept doing it when we moved to Texas 5 years ago. Most of my USF students don't realize I am in another state, not that it is a secret, they just never ask. And, like Karin, I love the diversity of students, all ages, all locations. I have had students deployed in the war take my classes.

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I have to say that the lack of structured class time is a bit unnerving for me. I may like it and I may hate online teaching but am willing to give it a go. I think I will like the novelty of it. I've been prepping for this new class for 2 years off and on, and I think it will be much improved after this workshop.

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I agree with the previous posters about flexibility. I taught online while finishing my PhD and worked exclusively at night on my course.

I think the diversity you see (in age especially) can depend upon where you teach online. I taught at a community college and saw all kinds of students. I'm prepping a class for a small university and I anticipate my students will more likely mirror the campus: more traditional students.

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This post was editted by Donald Reed on Jun, 2010
I also like the flexibility of online courses, both in time and space. I live in a nice area, far from my university, and enjoy working from home and keeping my carbon footprint low. Also, I can spend more time with my kids and respond quickly to any unforeseen events. I can also continue courses without interruption during professional trips to research conferences, national committees and NSF.

We have a large teaching load in the California State University system (4 course per semester without TA support) but I never experience "lecture burnout" at end of the semester and always come to my classes full of energy and ready to go!

I can serve a large group of students who can be "shut out" by the "normal" university schedule -- it is about accessibility to learning.

I know that we do not often bring up finances, but faculty can offer online classes in special sessions through continuing education or teach in another department (Global Studies), on a moments notice, which can add significantly to their annual salary.

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I like providing a service to students who cannot make it to my traditional class.

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I concur with Mel. I also use my versions of my online courses to students needing independent studies for various reasons, like studying abroad.

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In browsing through your comments I find myself nodding in agreement with many of the reasons you've cited for liking to teach online--serving nontraditional students, flexibility of work time and place, and so on. In the part of northern California where I live and work, offering various sorts of distance learining is something of a necessity. The college I work at serves about 45,000 people across a county the size of Connecticut. Travelling from distant sites to campus for class just isn't an option for many of our students, and our online courses complement a well-developed videoconferencing network.

I think one other reason I enjoy offering courses online is that it forces me to think very carefully about course design--what do I really want students to take away from a specific lesson, how can I best help them learn those concepts or skills, and how can I assess what they've learned. Students in face-to-face classes will ask if they don't understand something, but my online students tend to rely more on their readings and the instructions I've posted. I try to make sure that "everything works together" in an online class, so that questions in one area are addressed by something else they read or do. Putting together a course that works is definitely an iterative process, but one that really gives insights into how our students learn.

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