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eLearning

barclay_barrios
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My foundations in the eLearning discipline lay in the intersection of computers and writing. It was the central concern of my dissertation and the subject of my early scholarship. Though my research interests have shifted to questions of writing program administration, I continue to think about technology, in part because I am more nerd than academic.One might find it curious, then, to discover how little technology we use in the writing program I direct. There are some logistical reasons for this, primarily connected to budgetary concerns, but there are some pedagogical concerns as well. Anyone who has taught a course online will testify to its remarkable ability to consume time. One quick example: it takes 50 minutes to listen to and guide a classroom discussion; it takes many more to read through that discussion online and respond accordingly.At the same time, eLearning is the trending buzzword at our school. The administration has even created the Center for eLearning despite drastic slashes in our budget.Personally, I’m not ready to endorse a fully online writing class. I know such a beast exists, and I know that many teachers and schools find ways to make it happen successfully.I don’t see how it could work given our students, our resources, and our pedagogy. A hybrid course, however, has some appeal—though I must confess that the appeal is logistical, strategic, and perhaps even Machiavellian: hybrid courses would allows us to double the number of Tuesday/Thursday sections, the most popular class time for a student population that values extended weekends.I’d love to develop that hybrid course. I’ve fully intended to do so for at least three years now. But I’ve discovered that being a writing program administrator is 40 percent being a firefighter, 40 percent being a police officer (there are many policies that need to be enforced and many disputes that need to be mediated), 10 percent cheerleading (particularly in lean budget times), and 10 percent existing despite exhaustion.So I ask you, dear readers, what are your thoughts on hybrid writing courses? Have you taught one? What are some key ingredients to making them work? What tools do you use?
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About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.