I’m Christen Smith: an ESL professor and Education student. This is my first quarter at CSUSB and first graduate class since earning my MA in English and TESL back in ’96- pre-internet (as we know it) days (yikes that makes me sound old). I went to grad school at Cal Poly Pomona and did my undergrad at UCI. For the past twenty years I have been a community college instructor in OC, SD, & RC and am lucky to say it is still a job I love doing everyday. Since 2005, I have been a full time ESL Professor at College of the Desert in Palm Desert. Being a beach girl, born and raised, I couldn’t have imagined myself ever moving inland, but the truth is that I love waking to blue sky daily and have become an avid hiker and pool floater. Of course I still manage to travel to somewhere in the world with a tropical ocean at least yearly.
The reason I went back to school- This year I was granted a sabbatical to earn the E-Learning Certificate and improve C.O.D.’s online English and ESL courses. Truthfully, I like face to face, but I recognize that hybrid and online appeal to our students. Unfortunately, C.O.D.’s pass rates in online classes among basic skills students is dismal, so my hope this year is to learn how to help this student population achieve better success. Besides working on the E-Learning Certificate, I’m taking advantage of my time off from teaching to take a variety of Education classes for professional growth: Education Reading, Education Administration, etc.- anything that will help me be a better teacher. Staring at the stack of textbooks that have steadily arrived this past week is already making me more empathetic to my own students : )
I look forward to getting you know my classmates and professor in ETEC 648.
Best of Luck All,
Best of Blog
I would say my best blog this week is my comparison of School-as-a-Service and Ad Hoc. Writing about this shows me that there is a lot I have to learn about eLearning while at the same time reminding me that I bring in a lot of background knowledge from my 20 years of teaching. On one level, it worried me that there were so many eLearning terms in the Models of Online Educational Delivery article; however, once I understood the terms, I could apply my experience to fully understand the concepts. Reading and writing this session made it clear to me that this is exactly the right course for me.
School-As-a-Service was a new term for me, so I decided to contrast it with the more familiar Ad Hoc Online Classes/Programs.
As a teacher the idea of an outside source designing and creating any of my courses is frightening. Most of the partner companies made claims similar to Wiley Corporation saying, “we pride ourselves on deep, long-standing partner relationships that adapt to complement your needs and goals” (Wiley, 2014). Still, I couldn’t help think that I can’t even use a textbook because I’m can’t find one that appeals to all my requirements: topics, authors, exercises, supplemental, format, etc. I noticed that of the corporations that showed the courses they offer, none listed English or ESL (my field); are there simply disciplines that do or don’t lend themselves to standardized courses prepared by outsourced companies? One of these corporations 2U sites, “Social Work, Nursing, Education, Public Health, Business, Data Science, International Relations, Law, Public Administration, and Health Administration” (2U, 2014). Interesting to me that subjects like Art and Literature, which might be more subjective to personal taste, would not be included. Even though at this stage in my career I wouldn’t want to give up “control” over my course, as a new teacher I would have been grateful if someone had put the entire course together for me, and all I had to do was “manage” it.
Now as Lead Faculty in my department responsible for hiring, training, and evaluating new instructors, the standardization that school-as-a-service could offer is appealing. Recently I hired a couple of brand new graduates from CSUSB with no experience, and to be honest, I worry if their students are getting everything they need. I saw one instructor’s first assignment and immediately recognized that it was too easy for the level, and this is someone who has taught for years in our program. Even with detailed course outlines that have clear objectives and outcomes, it’s nearly impossible to ensure that all faculty are teaching the same information and requiring the same standards in assignments. Let’s face it, we’ve all been told which teachers are the hardest/easiest at some point in our educations. If all of the teachers are using the same course “module”, it ensures that every student is getting the same information, assignments, even grading to some extent if detailed shared rubrics are used. Though it’s not surprising that an article on School-as-a-Service: The Next Big Thing in the Higher Education Industry would highlight “enhancing access, reigning in cost, and enhancing revenue”, it is nice to see that they also claim to “contribute to better learning outcomes” (Greendale and Warner, 2012).
Clearly there are pros and cons to independently creating your own course (i.e. Ad Hoc) versus hiring a company to create one course that everyone uses as with School-as-a-Service. From an Administrative perspective, School-as-a-Service makes sense.