Wednesday, January 16, 2013

First post - please be gentle

Hi.  It's probably about time that I join the blogging world.  I have been teaching online college math for about four years.  I started out with pre-algebra, worked my way up the math hierarchy, and now mostly teach college algebra and statistics.

I teach for several for-profit colleges.  Sometimes "for-profit" has a poor reputation.  I am not involved in the recruiting, advising, and counseling end of education, and perhaps this poor reputation is not undeserved.  But as an analogy, I never like dealing with car salesmen, but I still drive a car.

The first question I asked during my first interview was how does an online school know its students are not cheating.  Unless there is some in-person proctoring by a certified third-party (which is possible - I have taken online courses as a student that did this), an online school can not know.  But plenty of cheating goes on in a brick and mortar school too, from paying someone to submit assignments and using cell phones or crib sheets during exams, so please don't be "holier than thou."

I have two bases of comparison of my online courses at online schools versus the content of brick and mortar schools.  The first is that my son who attends a state university took a very similar statistics course to the one I teach.  Although my course is fewer weeks than his, my course seems to cover approximately the same topics.  Second, I recently took an online liberal arts course as a student at a different state university, and I was decidedly unimpressed with how little my professor was involved in the class, how infrequently she communicated with students, and how she apparently didn't read the students' posts at all because she never commented on some of mine which clearly exceeded that scope of the course.  So I have some confidence that my online students are not getting an inferior education.

I look forward to sharing some of my online math experiences, discussing math and teaching, and learning from this vast blogging community.


  1. Welcome to blogging, Jerry. You ask a really good question - how do we know how good the quality of online education is? Some of our traditional measures of the success of our programs may not be appropriate. Comparison with other programs is obviously one technique, another would be to track students after they leave an online course and see how successfully they integrate the knowledge learned from the course into their future lives.

  2. Welcome to blogging, Jerry. I'm looking forward to reading your blog. And I appreciate your vising my blog. That's a good way to get readers, by the way. Visit and comment on blogs and often those folks will return the favor. That's how I found your new blog. Congrats on getting started!!