Thursday, January 8, 2015

Online Class Conduct: My Thoughts

It seems that there is a growing trend to think that because no one can see your face during an online class that it is perfectly acceptable to be rude, disrespectful, and to write as if you are text messaging your "BFF." As an undergraduate/graduate student I never took an online class, but have been fascinated with them as my previous Master's program is now fully online. A few terms ago I was offered the chance to teach one of my courses online for the CJ program and I instantly realized how some students felt that computer allowed them to conduct themselves in manners that they would never participate in during a normal class. I actually had  student send me an email laced with four-letter words because they didn't feel I had given them a good enough grade. (This student also did not know the difference between there, they're, and their)...need I say more?

I had wondered if this was just my course that this happened, but after consulting with colleagues have been told that they have discovered completely copied and pasted responses in their forum, texting abbreviations in academic posts, and an overall disregard for social interaction with their fellow classmates. My husband is currently enrolled in the online MA of Criminal Justice program at WOU and was flabbergasted this week when he read a post of an undergraduate student in one of his online courses. Basically the student wasn't able to find a required text book and so she decided to post a rather rude/curt forum subject to the professor on their online learning platform. A lot of things went through my head as I read the post that he was telling me about.

  • Did this student realize that it was the first week of classes and the professor might not have been able to get the book on reserve? The book wasn't assigned until week 5.
  • Had this student read through the introductions by her peers in the course? Did she realize that this was a slash course, meaning that she was in a course with undergraduate and graduate students? 
    • Did she read any of their bios and realize some of the positions held of her peers?
  • Would she conduct herself like this in a face-to-face course?
Perhaps my thoughts are created by the fact that I know that one of her classmates is the C.O.O of a large non-profit organization in her local area. This student may be on the other side of the table later in life when she finds herself looking for a job. They may not have a face to put with her name, but you better believe that they will remember the name of the person that was disrespectful in their online class. I was told by my husband that another one of the peers works for the Department of Human Services in an upper-management position and this same student said in her bio that she would love to work for them.  I try not to speculate, but I wonder if this behavior is a generational thing, caused by the lack of in-person interaction, or if the person would conduct themselves like this regardless of their classroom environment. I am very interested in knowing what others think about this topic.