Getting set up for a new semester at the office today, which includes finalizing the first six lesson plans I have written up (the 7th one should involve a fun discussion on Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” that I have already started to prepare for, though I don’t want to get too far ahead) and making sure my schedule, syllabus, and course site is all looking good. And so begins my second semester of PhD studies.
The other university I teach at started today (my “home” university, and it makes sense to call it that, doesn’t officially start classes until 4pm today and I don’t have classes or teaching until Wednesday, a long 12-hour Wednesday). I have around 30 students in that literature course at the “other” university. Now, I know that sounds like a lot of work, but usually around 5 of those students either drop or fade away. They may be active for the first couple weeks, but then nothing. I do send out class wide emails, and still I get nothing from them. Online teaching is a bit weird that way, though you get those students on ground as well, just not as many. (Probably 1 or 2 a semester.)
I also get a ton of international students online who do not have great English writing skills, which is why I think they flock to the online environment. I find many students thinking online classes are somehow “easier” a totally false idea and a disturbing myth in higher education. Sure, you do not have to sit in a classroom, but you end up doing a lot of work on your own. Group work is difficult, though possible, if all students participate. (Usually, there are one or two who never show and so those remaining are left to work together, though they do seem to form tight bonds with each other after doing so, even in an online environment, which is a very positive occurrence. ) But mostly, you complete each task on your own, though I do require students to respond to at least two other students per discussion topic.
Online education and those who participate in it could certainly form an interesting study. (EDIT: But after a little research, one that has already been done to death. You don’t have to continue reading the rest of what I wrote.) Problem is that I am not ready to perform such a task yet, or at least not as in depth as it probably needs to go. Will it become a dissertation topic? Probably not. I’d like to work on my hybridization work for that, or do something rhetorical in terms of a cultural and historical concept of a specific terminology. (Can you tell I have an idea I am not ready to talk about yet? 😉 ). Though I think the online education study is an interesting idea, and one I have experience in, I just don’t feel ready to devote that length of time to it because I don’t want to be stuck in an online teaching only rut. I guess that is why I am wanting to avoid it. If someone were to tell me otherwise, I may change my mind. (For instance, I could work hybrid courses into my study as well and then people would be less inclined to see me as an online only/mostly instructor.)
Or maybe i am just overanalyzing. 😉 I have always been told I have a good prose style, but I overanalyze too much.