As the campus promoter for online learning, I hear over and over again that many instructors feel that they can't "do what they do" in an online environment. "What they do" is referring to their content, teaching activities & strategies, and even the sense of who they are as a teacher. I find this interesting, because I, myself felt the very same way when I began my online teaching endeavors several years ago. I always prided myself on two major things, (1) my ability to connect with my students and (2) the fun and active learning environment that I created. How was I going to be able to re-create this in an online course? I found that I was a bit disappointed my first semester teaching online -- it really wasn't the same. I didn't get to see my students, I didn't get to spend time connecting with them, I didn't get to hear the "roar" of the classroom when they were busily engaging in group dynamics.
However, now it is my 7th semester teaching online and I couldn't be happier! I learned that I could not replicate the experience, but I could create an entirely different experience that was even more valuable to me. I found that I connected even deeper with my students online -- once you take away the barriers of face-to-face interactions, people are really honest! Students that might shy away in class just blossom in an online discussion board. I also learned a very valuable lesson from the community college student perspective: time is so valuable! Our students are working 40 hours a week, are full time students, parents, spouses and more....wow, so am I! Online courses allowed all of us to manage our time in a manner that worked for us...all of us! I came to my own conclusion that I couldn't be teaching unless I could teach online....and, neither could some of my students.
There are so many other reflections that came to mind as I thought about this, but these are the ones that really blew me away. I am so satisfied as an online instructor, and I believe my students are very thankful for that!