Natasha's posting raises an issue we are all coming to grips with now, I
think. It is clear that increasing class sizes and using more on-line
teaching methods, even for communications courses, are national and
international trends  Didn't someone last year say on CASLL that she had
been asked to teach a business communications class of a thousand?

I hope at the coming Inkshed conference (for those of you who are coming --
please send in your registrations, by the way) we will explore this huge
change in our teaching lives together. Some of the presentations certainly
refer to it.

Like many people, I see both good and bad possibilities, depending on all
kinds of other conditions and contexts.  Currently  severalof us at McGill
are using either Web CT or Lotus Learning Space, which can provide complete
on-line course delivery if that is the teacher's preference. (This is
great, of course, for Distance Education). My own preference is for a mixed
system, with close contact with students as individual human beings (or
small groups) as well as the opportunities the on-line interactive link
offers for extending class time indefinitely. Lotus Learning Space is
working well right now with an education course called Language and
Learning across the Curriculum, (45 students; 80 or 90 next year!)but for
communications courses themselves two dangers predominate, I think:  one is
that the course become extremely unfair, in socio-economic terms, with
students who have up-to-date home  computer equipment really having far
more access time.  The second problem that seems common is that the teacher
can be "swamped" -- in a sense, there is unlimited access by students and
often the teacher feels a sense of obligation to do a huge amount of
on-line response.

I notice some people are holding on-line office hours, only taking e-mail
from a particular class on two or three specified days per week, for
example!  This seems to work against the very advantages e-mail gives us,
but does give the teacher a breathing space, or balances out the demands of
several parts of their workload.

I'd be interested to know how others of you who have on-line or partially
on-line teaching are coping with this. Do you sometimes feel swamped or
have you found good ways to build checks and balances into the

Ann Beer

At 11:04 PM 09/03/99 -0500, you wrote:
>Robert Irish wrote:
>> Cathy's point that such teaching is easier is undoubtedly true,
>> and I know that that IS THE consideration in the course that English
>> foists on our Engineers at UT.
>But one can fight this attitude and even have small victories. We did at
>Carleton and, I think, did it quite successfully (don't know, though,
>how long what we have now as the Engineering Communication course is
>going to exist -- School of Engineering wants us to teach classes of 200
>students rather then small workshops of 25).
>Natasha Artemeva
>School of Linguistics and
>Applied Language Studies
>Carleton University
>1125 Colonel By Drive
>Ottawa, ON
>K1S 5B6
>Tel. +1 (613) 520 - 2600 ext. 7452
>Fax +1 (613) 520 - 6641
>E-mail: [log in to unmask]
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