Online university courses should not have more than 12 students
Twelve. This is the number of students who should be in an online undergraduate class, According to research of two teachers.
It’s an easy number to understand, just one dozen. But it’s a big, big deal for current and future online higher education.
The research is by Dr. Lawrence Tomei, professor of education at Robert Morris University and Douglas Nelson, director of the MBA program and professor at Seton Hill University. Their research was published last September, following a 2006 study, and aimed to establish maximum class sizes for various modes of instruction: classroom, online, and hybrid, which is a mix of online and online. anybody. The pair also researched these numbers in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral courses and programs.
The discoveries are breathtaking.
Tomei and Nelson say that, as mentioned, online undergraduate courses should have no more than 12 students. In person, on-campus classes should not exceed 18 students, and hybrid models should not have 17 students. Undergraduate classes should also have an upper limit of 18, while upper classes should not have more than 14 students, and doctoral classes should only be nine students or less, although Tomei advised more research. on this doctoral level.
Tomei and Nelson arrived at these numbers after over a year of studying across all colleges and disciplines and, from a teacher’s perspective, what it actually took to teach the courses. Dr Tomei says they’ve measured “the actual delivery of teaching,” tracked the time it takes to assess and give exams and do things like provide “advice and guidance” to students.
There should be fewer students in an online classroom because, says Tomei, “Teach online, and I know there are literally hundreds of thousands of K-12 teachers who are now reported to be teaching online. okay, takes a lot more work than teaching in a classroom. ”
The ‘biggest reason’ it takes longer and more work to teach online is that ‘the work was higher and much more difficult in assessment, online than in the classroom, much more challenges in assessing online students, ”Tomei said. “If you want to do anything online with genuine assessments like writing, essays, projects, it’s a lot harder online. It takes more hours and you can have fewer students, the same with tips and advice, ”he said.
Dr Tomei also said that research has shown that it also takes longer to prepare for an online course than a face-to-face course. “It’s not just about taking your materials that you’ve been using for 15 years and putting them on a site, there’s more to it.”
Teen college class sizes may be ideal, but it’s not too realistic because of the money. Each paid rear end that you can put in front of a teacher is a margin, an additional income. For years, this has been the obvious appeal of online university – the ability to put large numbers of students in classes with the same teacher, thus increasing profits.
In fact, the formula of cheap teachers, repeated course content, and massive class sizes is an ATM. So much so that many colleges exist entirely around this model, producing online degrees from heavily advertised programs that are managed instead of taught.
Big online cash cow colleges are unlikely to care about this study showing that their online courses are far too important to be taught well. Quality education from qualified and well-paid teachers is not their business model.
Nonetheless, having a class number, knowing that 12 is the largest recommended size for online undergraduate courses, will allow students to make better choices about where to study and what their tuition costs. actually provide. Every online student and every potential online student should send emails to their instructors and advisors asking them how big their online courses are, and then act accordingly.
Whether or not that happens, the real pressure to reduce class sizes is likely to come from teachers. And this is where Tomei and Nelson’s research will find enthusiastic ears. By studying the “load of professors”, by separating the actual work, the duo have armed faculties for future contract and payment negotiations.
“I think university and college administrations should definitely look into this issue. [research]. This will give them a better idea of the contractual revisions that need to be made as a result of this shift to online teaching – you need to look at class sizes, prep time – how long does it take for a faculty member. to prepare to teach online is different, ”said Dr Tomei.
He is. And if that does happen, if teachers negotiate better pay for online education, or if colleges start reducing class sizes in their online offerings, it would interrupt a foundational premise of online learning – l idea that the scale and scope of online education reduce its cost. It would also undermine the idea that online education is a democratizer of education, altruistic in scope and mission-focused colleges. Just watch how quickly schools reconsider this mission when costs rise.
In fact, the idea that online education would be cheaper because it could be bigger has never been true. There have always been significant hidden costs in online education, at least if you try to do it right. But capping online class sizes at 12 – heck, even 24 – would destroy the tax value of being online in the first place. Since college courses should focus on educational value rather than tax, that would be a good thing.