Kathryn Hubbell on the Advantages of Online Education
Communication studies faculty Kathryn Hubbell’s opinion piece on online education first appeared in The Oregonian on October 18, 2014. Here’s an excerpt:
In response to Ramin Farahmandpur’s Oct. 12 In My Opinion column, Online Courses Shortchange Their Students, I would like to defend online learning. I have taught both online and on-campus classes at Marylhurst University for the past six years.
Benefits I’ve found to online classes:
- I frequently get to know my students better online because they’ll tell me things through their student surveys and e-mails that they would not feel comfortable telling me face-to-face.
- Because we teach many older, working adults at Marylhurst, an online class gives them the flexibility to juggle school with families and jobs. For some people, it’s the best and only way to get a college education. These students are driven and dedicated.
- To make online learning more personal, I make small videos about once a week in order to explain something more in-depth, as do other professors on campus. When students can see and hear their instructor, they feel a greater connection to the class.
- I also need to see and hear my students. I may have them produce video introductions of themselves, schedule video conference calls and phone calls or meet them on campus if they are local and need help. It’s always worth the extra effort.
Perhaps the most inspirational online student I’ve had to date came through my classes last year. She was homeless, logging in from another state where she had received special grant money for her tuition. She joined on-campus classes via Skype and participated in online classes the same as everyone else. Once she reported reading her textbook by the light of her car. Often, she couch-surfed, begging friends and relatives for a place to stay. I worked with her closely all year, impressed by her drive. She earned her certificate in public relations on schedule, meeting the exact same requirements that our on-campus students must meet. I could not be more proud.
Kathryn Hubbell is a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies. She teaches in the public relations bachelor’s degree program, specializing PR principles, writing, research, social media and crisis communications. She recently received the William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award from the Public Relations Society of America.