Watching the UC and CSU systems decide to move toward online education has been unsettling for many California university instructors who believe that face-to-face classroom interaction is the best means of student learning and success. Online education has encountered, and will continue to encounter, much resistance from students, faculty, and, perhaps, administrators who desire human connection with their pupils and peers. More specifically, online learning will likely encounter the most resistance from performing arts and speech communication disciplines because of the need for physical presence in putting the skills to practice.
However, it seems that the transition from the online classroom to the virtual classroom may be somewhat inevitable. With budget constraints, California seems to think that online instruction is the wave of the future, and it will save the public university system.
How, then, do we teach a class as human-based as interpersonal communication when it is to be taken online (or mostly online)? Interpersonal communication cannot be truly learned through just reading a book; it must be applied in our everyday lives.
In Dr. Gale Young’s essay, Leondard’s Yard: Pulling at the Roots and Responsibilities of My Whiteness, she underlines the importance of relating one’s education to his or her personal life:
… [F]or education to be relevant it must grow out of the experiences of the students being educated. I went into class the next day and said, ‘I know a lot about what the authors of your textbook have to say about communication. And I know how it relates to my life. But in order for you to learn from this course we need to figure out how it is relevant to your world.
Therefore, if we are to have online education for interpersonal communication classes, we need to be able to create curricula that incorporate applied skills, in addition to communication theory, that will allow students to grow and see the importance of interpersonal communication in their lives.
I’ve designed this site to help facilitate true learning and growth in online interpersonal communication classes. It will show how certain projects designed for interpersonal classes can work for students and how they can benefit from the lifelong skills they will acquire from these assignments. Furthermore, it will provide useful resources and ideas that will be helpful to educators and students in making the best out of their education experience. While anyone can post reading material and quizzes online for students to complete, interpersonal online education must have more ways to engage students and instructors to fully participate in the academic process of learning.
The goal here is to, hopefully, serve as a model for interpersonal online education.
Young, G. (2000). Leonard’s yard: Pulling at the roots and responsibilities of my whiteness. In M. W. Lustig & J. Koester (Eds.), Among us (pp. 161-171). New York, NY: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.
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