Right now, I'm teaching eight undergraduate political science and history courses, with a ninth to start a week from tonight.  As Pittsburgh gets buried in snow, and I'm up here in the more fortunate suburbs of Cleveland, I was able to work on six of those classes at two institutions, even though one closed for the weekend early.

These are all reasons why I like online teaching.  I'm at my girlfriend's apartment, baby sitting her dog while she finishes off her workday.  I'm doing my work at her computer and did not have to venture outside into the cold, except for the needs of the above-said dog.  She has a brutal commute home from Cleveland.  I've got a dog.

Furthermore, the convenience extends to the students.  The students at La Roche College are all concentrated in the Pittsburgh area.  The ones at American Military University are scattered across the United States, and the world for that matter, including combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't know how any of this could be possible without online teaching.  Correspondence schools have existed for many years, but lack the potential for near real-time feedback and reaction.  What would take eight weeks for an Internet-based class would, almost certainly, take at least twice that in one based on snail mail.

Don't get me wrong, I still love the traditional classroom, and there's no substitute for teaching in person.  I have to be dragged kicking and screaming from that to an entirely online professional existence.  But there's no doubt that online teaching mixed with the brick and mortar classroom is one of my favorite professional experiences.  I don't see either how I could teach as much as I do, and have students from Pittsburgh to Kabul and beyond, without it.

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Poor Jim as I have enetered this world now with him and bug him unmercifully! But I echo his sentiments - the world of education has changed and the old time schools don't know how to quite react. Some like Norwich have adapted quickly to get both ends of the spectrum.
Yes, sometimes student illogic carries through into the online world as well. Somethings never change.

Still, this is one of the best developments in the educational field in my lifetime. Not everyone is in the right location for a standard classroom, nor has the time. I have a lot of police officers as well as military in my online classes, who don't have the most predictable schedules.
It all sounds good to me, too, but I just could not make the switch to only classes. They ask me every quarter, but I always decline. The more I teach, the more the personal, classroom, face-to-face stuff matters.

Fortunately, I'm in Orange County, California. Not a lot of snow...


Alan Emrich
I too enjoy the mix of both resident and online teaching. Obviously, resident teaching takes a LOT less time to do and you get instant feedback on how well you are doing in the classroom by the faces/attitudes/body language of the students. But I never get to know my students--particularly my best ones--quite like I have online. Been out of this genre for about seven years but am getting back into it again with Henley-Putnam University which focuses primarily on intelligence studies supporting law enforcement, counterintelligence, and executive security. But I enjoyed my days teaching for AMU.

Was able to apply a good bit of wargaming technique into the curriculum in two upper level undergrad courses, one on tactical intelligence and one on maneuver warfare. In the latter class particularly, I'd run three Tactical Decision Games online a synchronous private chat. They'd get the general situation the week prior and then when we'd log on at the appointed time I'd deliver the special situation. Students had 15 minutes to deliver a frag order to me and I'd play to role of subordinate leaders, asking questions and getting clarification. In most resident TDG sessions, we'd then go into the rationale and conduct a critique. But online, we'd actually play out the situation, with me being the umpire/OPFOR, following a prepared OPFOR plan/script that I'd only occasionally deviate from. We'd do a hot wash/critique on the spot and then I'd prepare a more detailed AAR from the chat script that I'd save from the session. It would take an hour and a half to run a game and typically an hour or so to prepare the feedback. The personal interaction and attention going on between professor and student was priceless. But I had online classes that were about 10 or less, so it was workable!
Those TDG's sound really interesting.

I'm averaging about twenty per class, but then American Government I is a required course for all undergraduates. Still, I'm surprised how well you can get to know people, and how the really motivated people can truly make their personalities felt. There are some in the traditional classroom whom I've gotten to know pretty well, though no one's asked me to post their bail yet. But the individuality can be more conspicuous in the online environment.


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