Volume 8, Issue 4     Editorial (1)
Online Learning My teaching career is nearing its end at the beginning of an education revolution. For over thirty years as an English instructor, I used reams of paper; now I use none. For over thirty years, my students would have to wait until my office hours to converse with me; now they send me e-mails night or day, or we meet in a course chat room. For over thirty years, I would make arrangements for guest lecturers to come to my classes to speak to my students; now I invite them to join us online. There have been many substantial improvements in education because of “Online Learning.” That is the segment of this Winter issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly I have had the pleasure of overseeing as Feature Editor. Using online components of hybrid, blended, or fully online courses has enriched instruction. As Beth Lindsay of Washington State University points out in her article, “. . . online courses. . . improve interaction and student performance within a traditional class setting.” There is no doubt of this in my courses, whether online or traditional. In my composition classes, students send me essays within MS Word attachments. I correct them by using Word’s “Tracking” feature and then return the essays to the students. In my literature classes, I require the students to post weekly e-mail analyses to the course listserv or to our course management platform (we use Blackboard at my university). Paper has been replaced by virtual communication. Communication between my students and me has been increased. I have invited guest speakers to appear online to discuss their differing points of view, and the students (and the speakers) have enjoyed the format. No one has had to travel, to cancel classes to go somewhere, to ask for travel and accommodations money, or to inconvenience oneself. The ease by which online and traditional courses have been enriched is astonishing. The articles contained in this issue reflect the diversity and ingenuity of colleagues engaged in “Online Learning.” I am always impressed by the ideas and methods used by teachers who are willing to try new technology to help their students learn. This winter issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly is rich with pedagogical concepts and research into such learning. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have in helping to put the issue together.Ben Varner, Ph.D. Professor of English
University of Northern Colorado
See CFP for the next Online Learning issue, Winter 2005.