Are online courses taking over in higher education, making the residential college model a thing of the past?
Not at all, Ed Finn wrote in a blog post in EDUCAUSE Review, published by EDUCAUSE, a higher education technology association with more than 99,000 IT professionals at member organizations in 45 countries.
As the ACM Liaison for Innovation and Collaboration in Teaching and Learning, Finn works to increase collaboration and networking across the ACM campuses, specifically related to enhancing teaching and learning using educational technologies.
In his post, titled “It’s Not ‘Us vs. Them’: Tapping the Power of Diverse Approaches to Instruction,” Finn argued in favor of modes of teaching that focus on creating the best learning environment for all students and not setting up a false dichotomy between “online” and “not online” instruction.
Creating such an environment, he wrote, requires that institutions encourage collaboration among faculty, IT professionals, technologists, and librarians aimed at engaging students through effective pedagogy — incorporating technology or not, depending on the situation — and bridging the digital divide.
The post grew out of discussions Finn participated in at the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) Workshop in December at American University.
“I wrote the blog post to try to counter the misperception — one I hear often, but not exclusively, from people at large research universities — that small, liberal arts colleges are lagging when it comes to effectively using technology in the classroom,” said Finn. “I know it’s a misperception because I regularly visit all of the ACM campuses, and staff and faculty there are doing remarkable things with digital labs, makerspaces, virtual reality, and other innovative technologies.”
“ACM colleges are not offering much in the way of fully online courses or programs, but then many larger colleges and universities aren’t, either,” he noted. “However, when you talk about blended learning and hybrid or web-enhanced courses, which use a mix of web-based technology and face-to-face interaction to support innovative pedagogies, then you’ll find a lot of that on liberal arts campuses. You’ll also find faculty and technologists working together to make those innovations happen.”
Finn works with ACM grant-funded faculty development programs, including the Faculty Career Enhancement Program (FaCE) and the Institute on College Futures (ICF) Online. He has attended and presented at various annual conferences, published articles in The Evolllution, and authored a guest blog in EDUCAUSE Review on the changing role of educational technologies and the importance of backwards design in course design. He has also conducted research on the role of faculty perceptions regarding the adoption and use of educational technologies and serves as a member of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Liberal Arts College Advisory Group.