NPR story about online courses (and weird hours)

I caught the tail-end of this story on today’s “Morning Edition,” “Online courses catch on in U.S. colleges.” I liked a lot of what I heard; they were focusing on an online English program at the University of Illinois-Springfield; I don’t know what software they use or anything like that (maybe I will when I read/listen to the whole story), but there is apparently a synchronous component to these classes, too.

I’ll probably link to it/assign it in English 516 this coming term, but I guess I have two slight reservations with the piece. First off, the title: haven’t online courses “caught on” at colleges/universities for a while now? Is this really something new? And second, this paragraph:

For professors, the growth of e-learning has meant a big shift in the way they deal with students.

Take professor Sara Cordell of the University of Illinois-Springfield: Her day doesn’t end at 6 p.m., as it does for some college professors.

I suspect that few college professors’ days end at 6 p.m. It’s not that college professors work long and hard hours; that’s true, but I don’t want to exaggerate that. But I think it is universally true that college professors work strange hours. In my department, just about every faculty member teaches at least one night class. So one day, you’re at home all day, half-working on school stuff (scholarship, grading, answering email, doing stuff online, etc., etc.) and half-working on home life stuff, and another day, you’re in the office for 12 hours. One day, you’re in at 9 am and out by 2 pm, and another day you’re in at 2 pm and not out until 10 pm.

A minor complaint (about the story– I prefer the weird hours, personally), but there you have it.

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