Online Collaborative Learning (OCL) is the culmination of the transformation that has taken place within the realm of online delivery. The idea that the teacher is the center of the instruction has come under question as the best delivery method for the Net Gen learners of the 21st century. The teacher-centered classroom has been the natural model as educators have delved into the world of online delivery and design. Institutions are arriving at the understanding that uniform curriculum as well as uniform online delivery is a necessity for the 21st century learners.
Initially, online classes simply resembled the brick and mortar counterpart, but through it rapid evolution, is recognizing the art and craft of well designed online courses. The primary problem though still remains; utilizing current educational staff to create, build and deliver these online opportunities. Building high quality online classes, takes a tremendous amount of time, and most school districts in the State of Alaska are operating under the premise of short-funding. Seaman (2009) writes, “the major barrier was the effort required to teach online: about 64% of the respondents wrote that it takes “somewhat more” or “a lot more” effort to teach online over face-to-face instruction, and over 85% reported that it takes “somewhat more” or “a lot more” effort to develop an online course than a face-to-face course.”
At some point, education inevitably comes back to funding, and what school boards understand is face-to-face, student / teacher contact time. I hear these phrases commonly used when budgets are tight and funding is the issue. Quality education requires quality preparation, and online teaching requires content knowledge, savvy technology understanding, intensive and focused inservicing, and time to build. “The need for practicing the skills required to facilitate or to teach an online class, to manipulate the online environment, and to master the required skills of communication and interaction cannot be underestimated” (Muirhead & Betz, 2002).
Harasim, L. (2012). Learning Theory and Online Technologies. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781136937750/
Muirhead, B. & Betz, M. (2002). Faculty training at an online university. USDLA Journal, 16(1). Retrieved November 26, 2009 from:www.usdla.org/html/journal/JAN02_Issue/article04.html.
Seaman, J. (2009). Online learning as a strategic asset, volume II: The paradox of faculty voices—Views and experiences with online learning. Washington, DC: Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Retrieved November 26, 2009 from: www.sloan-c.org/news/APLU_online_strategic_asset_vol. 2.pdf.