LANSING – Online learning is challenging educators to rethink how curriculum is delivered which has led some educators to ask if online learning is as good as face-to-face instruction. MSU associate professor Punya Mishra recently told a group of nearly 100 online teachers that the question should be “is face-to-face instruction as good as online instruction?”
Dr. Mishra, associate professor of educational technology for MSU’s College of Education, was the keynote speaker Aug. 4 at Michigan Virtual’s fifth annual “Collaboration of the Minds” event at The Henry Center in Lansing. Michigan Virtual hosted the two-day event for online educators from around the state, and a few from outside the state, to share information, learn new skills and prepare for another school year. Michigan Virtual will provide approximately 20,000 online course enrollments to middle and high school students during the upcoming school year.
Mishra said that online education can foster powerful learning opportunities for students that may actually be better than some face-to-face teaching methods. For example, online discussion boards provide an opportunity for all students to express their ideas on a topic in a timely fashion, this is difficult to accomplish in a traditional classroom setting.
“Michigan Virtual has some of the best trained and most experienced online teachers in the United States. I continued to be impressed by their creativity, professionalism and ongoing willingness to innovate” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Michigan Virtual.
Mishra, an award-winning teacher, and researcher in the areas of computer-based learning environments and technology integration in teacher learning and professional development told the online teachers that the challenges of online teaching include finding ways to connect with students.
“It takes more effort to feel connected to students online,” Mishra said. “But it can be done.”
The challenge for teachers, Mishra said, is to master the technology, subject area and teaching methods while creating an online presence that is credible to students. But online teaching is not just using a set of technical skills. Like face-to-face instruction, online instruction is a craft that needs to be practiced. Online teachers need to explore, create and share their insights to provide solutions to help all students learn.