The Online Educator: A Guide to Creating the Virtual Classroom

The Online Educator: A Guide to Creating the Virtual Classroom

The Online Educator: A Guide to Creating the Virtual Classroom

The Online Educator: A Guide to Creating the Virtual Classroom


The internet is changing the way we live and education has always played an important part in shaping our lives. It is now time for education to capitalise on the Internet's capabilities to create a new learning environment for tomorrow's students. The Online Educator provides much needed straightforward advice on how to create a web-based education system. From Administrative planning and selecting resources to individual course development, it offers clear, novice-friendly information on the entire process of online learning. Key features include: *clear definitions of common terms and concepts *a practical 'how-to' approach with useful checklists *a discussion of the issues for students and teaching staff *links to useful websites and other resources. Based firmly on current distance learning research, yet accessible and very readable, this book will be indispensible to anyone interested in developing online education.


When I was first invited to write this book in late 1999, cutting-edge colleges, universities, and corporate educators were only two years into their initial Web-based distance delivery offerings. At that time I guessed that perhaps 10 percent of colleges and universities in the United States were offering courses on the Web, and perhaps 25 percent of large corporations were doing the same. But statistics for those estimates were very hard to find. I was told that those numbers were significantly lower outside the United States.

Now, in early 2001, statistics about computer use and Web-based training are beginning to surface (though the data are at least eighteen months old). Reports show that close to 80 percent of colleges and universities in the United States are offering Web-based components in their curriculum; 68 percent of K-12 classrooms include some Web-based learning; and over 60 percent of large corporations offer training efforts that use the Web.

The early disappointment of online learning

Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence also suggests that much of this storm of development has been undertaken in haste, without expert preparation or knowledge of the process. in fact, many educational institutions and corporations have approached the development process as a reaction to perceived competition for students, instead of as a project to enhance student learning. the attitude in much of higher education has been: “We need online courses now. I expect there to be x percent of courses by the end of the year. Oh, and by the way, there is little to no extra money to make this happen.” the K-12 schools received similar directives, though usually with more political consequences. Politicians want to see schools using technology. Parents want their children competing at the highest levels. Government policies add technology to schools in the same pen stroke that also asks for teachers to be surrogate parents, drug czars, health advisors, and peace officers.

Though this demand for immediate incorporation of Web-based education has yielded a great increase in courses and study opportunities, we are now also seeing the consequences of the absence of strategic planning. This backlash is evident in instructors’ refusal to teach online, student protests over receiving insufficient feedback and mentoring from their Web-based professors, parent complaints and

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