Is Online Teaching Student-Centered?

I'm looking over a review of an article from the Higher Education Research Institute at the UCLA that has comprehensive national data sets on the attitudes and working conditions of undergraduate instructors.

The section that interested me talks about at their finding that even if professors are not embracing all-online instruction, they using methods that they feel increases student-centered learning and that is often about using technology.

They report that less than one in five faculty members report teaching exclusively online and report a "lack of movement" among faculty to teaching a course exclusively online. In their
 2012 report, 14% said they’d taught a course online and this year it was 17%. The highest percentages are, not surprisingly, at public four-year colleges where 27% have taught online. (But still up only 3% since the last report.)

Who is least likely to report teaching fully online? Full professors

Inside Higher Ed's own recent survey of faculty attitudes toward technology also suggests that despite widespread skepticism of fully-online instruction, faculty seem to be moving toward “student-centered methods.” (Based on responses from 16,112 full-time undergraduate teaching faculty members at 269 four-year colleges and universities.)

What would be examples of this student-centered shift?
- 83 percent reported using class discussions in all or most of their classes
- using student-to-student evaluation was up 18% to 28% this year
- using student-selected topics for course content went from 9-26%

But some stats - increased use of YouTube and other videos in the classroom - does not fall under the heading of student-centered for me.

Those who teach in business, engineering, fine arts and education are the ones most likely to say they “frequently" assign work requiring their students to work outside of class with classmates.

The report also points to some external pressures to make learning more student-centered, such as the National Science Foundation awarding large grants for experimentation with such techniques.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the shift is stronger with junior faculty, but that indicates that the shift is likely to increase over time.


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