As part of my responsibilities at my university. I teach one online course per term. I started doing this very early, before the Internet, much less Web 2.0, really evolved, I am wondering if my complaints below are not so much inadequacies of my students but residues of the involuntary text-centeredness of online pedagogy's early years.
Several people in my current class have reported that they were not able to get the assigned textbooks on time through the bookstore, and I pointed out that all the early stories were in the public domain and easily available as e-texts (I provided several links), often with helpful and useful commentary. But they are not reading these e-texts, they are waiting for the book to arrive, and so falling behind their colleagues. My students do not seem acclimated to reading e-texts (I noticed this in my Greek drama course in fall 2008 as well where often I would post e-texts of alternate translations, vital for understanding the idea of literature in translation--David Grene's, Richmomd Lattimore's, David Slavitt's Sophocles all being so different, and all three different from Victorian translations). Nor do they appear particularly interested in the video clips and images I go to great lengths to post. I also post scholarly articles; these I do not expect most of them to look at, but they are also a possibility afforded by the Web that they seem reluctant to embrace. I wonder if I should make an assignment involving these mandatory, or make it mandatory that they read the e-texts? I wonder if from now on I should not just assign any print books of anything available as an e-text?
In short, their viewpoint is very text-centered. They do very well within that compass, but the online environment offers such a more multimedia experience, such a chance to be at home in the Internet rather than simply use it as a venue for a prepackaged course. I feel a lot of the potential innovation and creativity of the Internet is being left by the wayside. Perhaps a longer course time would address this issue, make it more possible to use more modes. Or perhaps I just need to incorporate the multimedia structure within my assignment frame and apparatus.
Part of the problem may be that my institution uses Blackboard and not a Facebook-like software such as DruPal, but I am not sure a change in platform alone would reshape the underlying syndrome.
part of my puzzlement is that I look at YouTube for fun, and basically read scholarly articles for fun, and I mean by adding them to the course to create fun extras; my students, though, seem to perceive them as supernumerary add-ons, and even burdens. Perhaps it is I who need the readjustment.