I'm swimming my way through the proliferation of classes online and I'm wondering what other people's experiences are like. As you know, I've been teaching (mainly different aspects of design, but also some surface design) online for a number of years now..maybe seven years....and I also have a private online master class. Meanwhile, I've been taking online classes myself - not in quilting - but in several other things. So I've been thinking about some of the pros and cons of the online experience.
From the teaching point of view I really like having personal contact with the students...which I do in all my classes...just writing lessons and then putting them out there with no discussion and no feedback seems very sterile to me. And with the lessons I've taken in other subjects, they are nearly always computer driven, and since I always have questions - I find that very frustrating! Especially when the computer makes a mistake! Online lessons that don't have teaching feedback are no better than reading a book - and a well illustrated book is often easier to use - you can flip back and forth ...slow here...fast there etc.
Research shows that two things are key to learning: practice and feedback. The non-teacher present learning situations are therefore going to limit one's progress.
Start date: Some classes run for a specific period of time, others you can start whenever you want. I like the flexibility of starting whenever you want, though that might make problems for
student/teacher accessibility or for discussions between students all moving forward as a cohort through a sequence of lessons.
Inter-lesson intervals: I also would like to be able to move forward to the next lesson at my own pace - sometimes more quickly than they plan, sometimes more slowly. Some programs allow this, others don't. I was very put off recently by a language learning site that required you to sign up for 3 months, but the amount of material that was offered I knew I would get through in just one month! Three month sign up for one month access to material didn't work for me.
Sometimes you get to the end of the course and you'd like to take a break and then review the material again....I was very miffed when a site that promised I could do that at the end of the course completely reneged on that promise! However, I can see that unlimited forever access could be problematic for the teaching agency....what I've done with the master classes of previous years is allow access for at least a full season after the class has finished.
There does seem to be a usual rate of about $10-$20 per lesson where there is a "real" teacher available for feed back....and that seems very fair to me...but where the whole program is computer driven I feel that this would be too high. A recent series of bridge lessons I surveyed wanted $15 per videoed lesson - no feedback available. On the other hand, most painting DVDs are in the $20-$30 range...BUT you have them for ever and you can freeze one frame and work from it in the studio.
Piano lessons with one teacher via Skype are quite high: about $75 per lesson. And, remember, ANYONE can say they're a piano teacher, there is no professional license required!
Videos - too fast or too slow!
Surprisingly, although everyone says all students want videos, I have not usually found them to be very helpful. If it's something I need to actually see I've found that on the video the action or position can go by too quickly, a clear series of photos or even diagrams would be more helpful. And, quite frequently, the opposite is true, the person demonstrating on the video faffs around and I get bored waiting for the crucial bit of information! When will she actually tell me the right key strokes?!!!!
While there are a huge number of lessons out there, often none of them are exactly what you're looking for! it would be good if one could contact the agency and say "how about making a class on this, or that, topic? " However, when I have contacted the companies I've usually found that you can only email a salesperson rather than the creator of the lessons. (But feel free to contact me if you have a yearning for something that you think I could write a course about!).
So...what are your experiences? how would you like to see online classes presented? What are you looking for in your classes? Comment please! or feel free to email me privately - there's a link up on the side bar on the right....I love to hear from you!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading...it's time for a nice cuppa tea, don't you think?