Professors' Takes on Online Courses

“The course is more accessible to more students than it would be otherwise.  For example, students around the world can participate in UIUC’s top ranked Information Science program through the LEEP distance option.  Without the distance options they would be relegated to local schools. Likewise, we are able to pull speakers/lecturers from diverse locations.”

“Some students actually participate more fully in the online format because, instead of having to stand up in front of the class, they can add their feedback in the chat, via a microphone, in a forum, etc.”

Jeanne Therese Holba Puacz, Lecturer, Information Sciences


“The natural ebb and flow of a face-to-face course, in which you can (if you choose to!) respond in the moment to questions, read student faces to see if they’re “getting it,” and adjust the amount of time spent on difficult topics based on interactions with the students in real time.  Sometimes I discover a concept needs a different explanation as I’m teaching it, and it’s harder to assess that in an online course.”

Jason Lee Emmert, Professor, Animal Sciences


“The level of personal interaction possible in a well-designed, tech supported online classroom surprised me. Our students really get the red carpet online experience, compared with other programs I have encountered. We take care to personalize our online teaching.”

Elizabeth Fabry Massa Hoiem, Assistant Professor, Information Sciences


“Benefits are the course reaches a lot of people who need the information; primary challenge is that some kinds of exercise are difficult to do or to mark.  Second challenge is extremely poor contracting arrangements with the university, which is unwilling to offer sensible contracts toinstructors and wants permanent rights to content.”

David Alexander Forsyth, Professor, Computer Science


“In an online course, especially an asynchronous one, online discussions take much longer, since students may not be connected at the same time. It is easier for students to hold out and not participate in online discussions, or only participate at the last minute, than it is when students are in the classroom.”

“When I was approached to teach in the Winter session for the first time, I was unsure if it would be worth retooling the course to a 4 week timeline (the online version is normally 8 weeks). We had previously offered a classroom version of ASTR 100 in the first part of the summer session, but it rarely had enough interest. I thought a 4 week course offered over the Winter Break (i.e., over Christmas and New Year’s) may have similar enrollment issues. It didn’t. It’s been offered every year since.”

Bryan C Dunne, Assistant Chair, Astronomy


“The benefits of online instruction is that is flexible in terms of attendance — People who work or live far away or travel can take the class and participate on their own time schedules. But the deadlines are rigorous and somewhat unforgiving for those who fall behind. Students need to self motivated and alert to succeed in these classes.”

“Students who first start college are already exhausted from high-pressure tests that makes them reticent to talk because they have been trained that there are right and wrong answers. Opinions are not valued so they hold their ideas to themselves. What was once a place for free exchange of ideas has become like a morgue.”

Beverly Stewart, Contingent Academic Laborer

 “I can see if a student who claims to have been working on an assignment is telling the truth or not since there are logs to keep track of every page click.”

“Cheating in all forms is particularly difficult to control and enforce with online classes.”

Joanne Manaster, Faculty Lecturer, Integrative Biology and OMST


“While online courses have virtual office hours (similar to Skype), and I make myself available to meet in person, most students do not take advantage of these. With an in-person class, you can immediately address concerns and confusions.”


“I was surprised to discover how little attention some students pay to logistic information such as course syllabi and schedules. Many students would miss assignments completely if they were not reminded directly via email on the due date.”





“The main challenge is that many students struggle to retain and comprehend information as well as they do in traditional, in-person courses. Moreover, as an instructor, you have less control over learning outcomes, because students are more responsible for their own learning.”

 “Students underestimate the amount of time and effort that online courses require.”




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