Teachers need to update outdated technology in online courses – The GW Hatchet

Online courses allow students to learn anywhere and anytime, from a desk in a suit and tie to a bed with pajamas on. They allow flexibility that normal classes simply cannot provide. But with these advantages come the disadvantages. The technology involved in online courses varies by class and is often lacking in terms of audio and visuals.

Teachers, especially those who are older or just less tech-savvy, often use Adobe Shockwave – or other outdated software – to record their lessons, which is only supported on laptops made before 2016.

Grace Lee Caricature

This summer I took an online course called Poverty, Wellbeing, and Work at Home in New Jersey and had difficulty accessing the courses on my MacBook Air because it did not support Shockwave files. . The only way around this was to use my dad’s old HP laptop and listen to the horrible sound, which was quiet and blurry, as I squinted trying to figure out the script on the PowerPoint because of the small format. I tried to relay my difficulties to my teacher about this, but he only referred me to the Information Technology Division. They couldn’t help me either. The problem wasn’t my laptop – it was the outdated software required for the course.

The University should require professors to improve the technology of their courses using updated software and better equipment. They should use better recording equipment, like a Blue Snowball microphone, and download files in mp4 or avis format, which are supported by most computers. Simply relying on PowerPoints with poor quality voiceovers and outdated files will reduce the quality of learning. Students pay about $ 1,250 per credit for online summer courses – the same amount per credit for traditional courses – and they should receive the same quality of instruction.

At present, the students can only smile and put up with the outdated software because there is no other alternative in such a short time. They may either be lucky enough to find another way to view the material or end up dropping out of the course altogether. Online courses are the only method for long distance students to meet certain GW credit requirements in their free time, so this situation cannot go unresolved. Not all online courses work this way, and some interact very well with distance students, but it should be the norm for all classes. This problem can be solved with the simple solution of using better and up-to-date software to record lessons so that every student can have access to quality education.

If a teacher does not have the ability to use the new curriculum due to a lack of technological knowledge, then he should be required to take a course on how to use more advanced software and become more adept at technology. Giving teachers lessons on how to use better recording technology, like a Logitech C920 webcam or Blue Snowball USB microphone, can dramatically improve the quality of their lessons. It may even inspire them to use technology in more innovative ways in the classroom.

The technology isn’t just about buying microphones and webcams, or just using programs like Skype to make office hours easier. If applicable to the class, the teacher can introduce new programs that have to do with the field. For example, in my audience development course, we learned how to use a program called Chartbeat to analyze website data traffic. This gave the students a chance to implement what they learned in the classroom into real life examples.

It’s not just technology that’s holding back online courses. Students of online courses have already tried to call for changes. In April 2016, a group of former students filed a class action lawsuit against GW for its online graduate program at the School of Professional Studies in Safety and Security Leadership, claiming that the online program to which they registered did not reach the promised quality. Specifically, they talk about the lack of teaching provided in the lessons and the teacher making no effort to communicate with the students.

Teachers can also simply offer their cell phone numbers to students if there is a need for direct contact, ask students to blog to show their work, or share podcasts on the topic covered in class. Professors and students can also interact on social media sites like Twitter to have an ongoing conversation outside of the classroom. Using such methods can reduce the gap between teacher and student that is notorious in online courses, and give them a more personal feel.

Not only will better technology improve the learning experience for the student, but it will also reduce the negative reputation that can be attached to online courses, a win-win situation for students and the University.

Raisa Choudhury, a junior specializing in political communication, is a Hatchet opinion writer.

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