Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2018 – Niagara: Robert Morris
Robert Morris is a Professor of English at Niagara County Community College.
Writing I (NCCC’s first-year composition class) seemed like the perfect class to take or to teach online, so I jumped at the opportunity to join the SUNY Learning Network (the pre-cursor of Open SUNY) in 2001. The student learning objectives of the course are designed to improve critical reading, writing, and research skills. From the beginning, I realized that taking the course online required students to do more reading and writing just to complete the same tasks that they would in a traditional in-person class, so online students progressed faster and further than my in-person students did. Online students cannot come to class and gather enough from the discussion and lecture to “skip” the readings. They have to write discussion posts that are much more in-depth (interesting) than in-class discussions tend to be. More of them participate online. The peer response process is much more honest and in depth in written form than in any method I have tried where students are face-to-face. In fact, the online methods are so much more effective than in-class techniques that I have completely changed my in-person classes as a result of teaching online. Why should in-person students not benefit from the advantages of online learning?