Home » Distance Library Instruction Virtual Poster Session (Spring 2019) » Online Learning: It’s a Level Playing Field

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Online Learning: It’s a Level Playing Field

This poster is part of the Distance Library Instruction Virtual Poster Session hosted by the ACRL DLS Instruction Committee. We encourage you to ask questions and engage in discussion on this poster! Authors will respond to comments between April 1-5.

Presenters:

Whitney A. Curtis, Barry University School of Law; Wanita Scroggs, Stetson University College of Law; and Julie Kitzmiller, Stetson University College of Law

Poster Description:

Online Learning is a level playing field for students who may have barriers in a traditional classroom, such as minorities, LBGT, people with disabilities, and foreign and international students.

Poster:

About the Presenters

Whitney Curtis attended undergrad at Mary Washington College, earned her law degree from Roger Williams University, and her library degree from the University of South Florida. She is a member of the New Jersey Bar. She teaches advanced legal research online and a traditional classroom, and Technology in Legal Practice.

Wanita Scroggs attended undergrad at Texas A&M University, earned her law degree from Arizona State University, and her library degree from the University of South Florida. She is a member of the Florida Bar. She teaches advanced legal research in an online format at Stetson University College of Law.

Julie Kitzmiller has been with Stetson University College of Law’s online programs for 10 years. Working with online asynchronous classes, she has experience with Blackboard’s Learning Management System, Polycom and Winnov Lecture Capture systems, and a variety of web conferencing tools. A self-avowed technology nerd, she loves her job.


5 Comments

  1. Hi, Whitney, Wanita, and Julie,

    The only way I was able to go to college was to attend online, but it honestly never occurred to me about how diverse my classmates were because we were only judging each other by our work. I do recall a deaf student in graduate school, but the only reason why I knew was because we were required to create videos with voiceovers at the beginning of the class where she discussed it. You’re absolutely right: online learning does, in fact, level the playing field. I might also suggest it helps those of us with social anxiety because we’re not required to present ourselves apart from our work. I was able to focus on my studies rather than the social interactions with folks. Thank you for your presentation. I definitely plan on having discussions with colleagues about this subject as we move more toward online and hybrid courses at our institution.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      That is a great perspective. Thanks for commenting! I know I found the same when I was a student taking online classes. I’m quite introverted and going to a face-to-face class made me really tired… just interacting with all the people. Being able to concentrate on the actual subject matter and use my energy there was a big plus. Now that I teach online classes, I’m more aware of how that might help my students. The one thing I miss, though, is not knowing my students so well. I know their names and the subjects they choose for their papers. But unless they come to my office or the library and say, “Hi. I’m in your class.” I don’t recognize them.

      Wanita

  2. Thanks for putting together this poster! I agree that it can provide a *more* equitable space for learning, especially for learners that are neurodivergent, struggle with mental illness, or have full time jobs/families. When I was an online learner I found that it was actually a more difficult environment for me to thrive in if there were not specific forums to disclose social identity (and often instructors did not do this). For example, I got misgendered quite often as an online learner because instructors and peers made a lot of assumptions about my identity. Content may take precedence over social identity, therefore limiting implicit bias, but I’m concerned that assumptions get made around identity and then minoritized identities get hidden. Considering that identity is a huge part of *how* we learn, I’m wondering if any of you have experience or tips for bringing forth conversation about identity so that it doesn’t get ignored?

    • Hello and thanks for the great comment!

      You are absolutely right. Speaking for myself, my classes are relatively small (usually 20-25 students). I always start with the very first “assignment” being that the students introduce themselves on the discussion board and tell the class whatever they are comfortable sharing about themselves. Some of them will have met each other in previous classes, whether face-to-face or online. But many of them are new to one another. Letting the students decide what to share is one way to let them manage their own identity.

      But what would be really great is if those who teach online had a guide for best practices that was effectively shared with all faculty. I find that the faculty at our university get together and discuss best practices for their face-to-face teaching, but not for online… and many of our online classes are taught by adjuncts who are not available to attend such meetings anyway. This is an area that’s really lacking. We seem to have forged ahead into online teaching without the traditional support systems and sharing with each other what works and what doesn’t.

      Wanita

      • Reed.

        Thank you for your comment. Like Wanita, my classes are relatively small and generally do not exceed 30 students. I also give a first class assignment which asks the students to introduce themselves on the discussion board and share with me and the rest of the class whatever they are comfortable sharing about themselves. The classes vary as to which of the students know each other from previous classes or are “meeting” for the first time. By allowing them to decide what they choose to share with the class is how they are able to manage their own identity.

        I agree with Wanita that it would be helpful if there was a best practices guide for the faculty who teach online as well as some of the other traditional support systems. A lot of us who teach online definitely seem to learn as we go but don’t always do such a great job of communicating our successes or failures.

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