You are on page 1of 6


Student Perspective By Camille T. Stegman Texas Tech University


Case Study of Tracey Nirldon This particular case study looks at Tracy Nirldon, a 30 year old female who has chosen a distance education course for her Introduction to Teaching class. Tracy is married and has hopes of completing her Masters degree within the next two years. She currently works as a substitute teacher in a large school district; therefore, she works most days during the school year. The school she attends on-line has started offering many introductory courses via distance education. This assists Tracey in getting her education without being required to attend at a specific place and time, as a Face to Face (F2F) would require. Tracy is intelligent, accommodating, dutiful, and self-reliant. She is able to manage her own education, yet she still yearns for direction and leadership. Tracy believes that if she works hard and studies she will be successful. Tracy is new to distance education and concerned that she lacks many of the new skills required to be as successful as she normally is in coursework. With a course management program to figure out, assignments larger than usual, and due dates that may not always be on the same day of the week; she feels overwhelmed by the process yet ready to begin. Responsibilities of the Facilitators The facilitator of any online course is accountable for insuring that the instructional methods, course work, and delivery manner meets the needs of the students enrolled in the course. For Tracys class on Introduction to Teaching the instructor considers the goals, cognitive processes and epistemological understanding of the students. Many of the strategies that work in a F2F class will be successful in an online course with some modifications. The


instructor of a course like this should consider ways of making the course engaging. (Simonson, 2012) Active learning, just as in a F2F environment, is desired. Online education must be alert to student needs, differences, and the subject matter. (Larreamendy-Joerns & Leinhardt, 2006) The instructor Tracys online course wants to ensure that the organization of the course is clear. So a syllabus that discusses clear expectation and the assessment process is created and is paramount to any successful course. (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012) The syllabus assist the student in understanding what is expected and should be comprehensible, too much information is as dreadful as too little. This document provides Tracy with information to all the students on how to handle technical issues and gives them multiple methods to contact the instructor. The instructor should strive to construct a learning community. Critical thinking and reflective thought are often thought of as vital to constructing knowledge. (Simpson, J.B., & Aycock, 2005; Vygotsky, 1978) By creating groups and group work the instructor is facilitating communal constructivism. (Onkie, 2010) It can be said that learners can construct their knowledge through different learning activities such as raising questions, collecting and sharing information, discussing with peers, and discovering the solution to a problem. (Lan, Tsai, Yang, & Hung, 2012) The instructor need to make certain that a community of learners develops that wishes to actively participate in the assigned tasks. Giving students ample time to analyze and contemplate readings, discuss topics with peers, and using hands-on experiences help facilitate energetic participation. Discussions and participation can be synchronous or asynchronous in nature and with the advent of programs like Skype and Lync, Tracy and the other students can have more opportunities for discussions in real time with peers or the instructors. In the asynchronous arena,


the instructor has instituted the threaded discussion. The nature of this form of communication requires that assessment of the discussions have varying levels from nominal to excellent (Simonson et al., 2012) In addition, the instructor should only respond occasionally to postings as the conversation is for students to build knowledge.

Responsibilities of the Student Tracy has some large responsibilities for her success in this course. As with many online courses, it is best for the student to keep a regular schedule of when they plan on getting the course work accomplished. During the first hours that the course is open, Tracy spends some time working with the course management system the instructor has chosen so that she understands how to use it correctly. After examining all the modules available and getting an idea of the course work required Tracy decides to break up assignments into practical amounts. As the course is in education there are many opportunities for reflection. For this type of work in she sets aside Monday evenings so that the reflections are achievable during one setting. Tracy knows that when she starts a reflective thought and puts pen to paper, she needs to make certain not to interrupt the contemplative process as this can cause insightful ideas to be stifled. Tracy knows her own learning style and uses that knowledge to her advantage. When given the opportunity to self-select readings, she focuses on the area of education that interests her. Tracy has also taken the opportunity to try out different environments when subbing for her district. Not only does this assist her in processing the information in her course work, but also allows her to apply what she is learning in the class. (Successful online learning, 2000)

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE Tracy knows that an online course often contains more work than a F2F course. Many

instructors believe that to keep up with the rigor of a traditional class, which forgoes the 3 hours of in class time per week, more work must be issued. Wyatt found that students felt online instruction is more academically demanding than traditional classroom instruction (2005) This is unfortunate as instructors should consider that much of the 3 hours of F2F time is spent getting off track or discussing stories rather than moving the agenda forward and discussing important curriculum standards. This is how many classes in higher education are handled. University professors love to pontificate about what they think about a subject matter. Universities need to contemplate the motivations of a student that takes online courses. Why did Tracey choose this style of course? As was discussed, she is probably a self-started and motivated person. It could also be that Tracy is too busy, has too many commitments to devote a specific time and day to a course, or perhaps she just wants to work at her own pace. It would be interesting to see if perhaps she is simply tired of going to a classroom where she is lectured to for hours; this is followed by a test or an essay that asks the student to repeat back information within the lecture. It is quite possible that many distance education students feel that they can learn more following their interests, then listening to a pretentious professor reliving their glory days. It is not only K-12 education that needs to reflect on their current teaching practices.

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE References Lan, Y.-F., Tsai, P.-W., Yang, S.-H., & Hung, C.-L. (2012). Comparing the social knowledge construction behavioral patterns of problem-based online asynchronous discussion in e/m-learning environments. Computers & Education, 59(4), 1122-1135. doi: Larreamendy-Joerns, J., & Leinhardt, G. (2006). Going the Distance with Online Education. Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 567-605. doi: 10.2307/4124415 Onkie, R. (2010). Educational implications of theory of communal constructivism. Simonson, M., Smaldino , Albright , & Zvacek , (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Simpson, J.B., & Aycock, J. C. (Eds.). (2005). John Dewey and the Art of Teaching; Toward Reflective and Imaginative Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Study Guide: Successful online learning. (2000). Retrieved October 27, 2013, from Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wyatt, G. (2005). Satisfaction, Academic Rigor and Interaction: Perceptions of Online Instruction. Education, 125(3),. Retrieved October 29, 2013 from