Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nathan Heller: Is College Moving Online? : The New Yorker

Nathan Heller: Is College Moving Online? : The New Yorker:

"Has the future of college moved online?"

I was among the first to teach an accredited college course online. When the hell was this? Before I started teaching here, so before 1997,  Over 15 years ago, I taught an online screenwriting class accredited by Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.

A very telling way it all came together. I had my screenwriting website then, the first of its kind, tons of traffic. I decided I could teach online from a website, using it and a chat room. I started doing this. Some students wanted college credit for the class, so I checked into it. I proposed an online course to every college in the area here. No dice. Everybody was "studying in committee" if online courses were feasible. Blah blah blah. Very discouraging.

Then my old friend from grad school, the late Gerry McNamie, who taught at Eastern, had business in Portland and rode his motorcycle here. We had lunch. Catching up, I vented about my inability to find anyone who believed in online ed. He gave me a name at Eastern, saying, we do lots of distance ed., you might find a more receptive ear here.

So I emailed the guy. He loved the idea! I made my formal proposal. IN .LESS THAN A MONTH I was accepted into the Eastern curriculum, an online screenwriting class taught from the web, the first class there using this method. I even gave a couple of talks there about how I did it. And the class was a great experience but when I started here, it became too much, and I passed it on to an ex-student. Not sure if it still happens or not. The ex-student had to quit when she got a demanding job.

I had an invitation to teach a hyperdrama class online, for a college back east, but when I looked into the interface they used, it was a nightmare, a zillion times more complicated with more hassles than necessary. Something else came up and I was relieved to have to bow out.

Institutions can screw anything up.

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