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Your questions about online learning, answered at SXSW

describe the imageIs online learning a joke? What does storytelling have to do with education? And how the @#&* do you teach music online?

These are the types of questions the staff at UNCG Online answer on a regular basis. Maybe they’re not always phrased so bluntly, but the inquiries certainly carry a healthy dose of skepticism. Online education is still relatively new. Skepticism is natural.

And that’s why we’re hoping to get those questions answered on a national scale.

In the world of tech conferences, you can't get much bigger than the annual South By Southwest Interactive festival (commonly referred to as SXSW). The conference draws thousands of developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and marketers to Austin, TX each year to learn about and share the latest trends and ideas in technology.

In recent years, educators have joined the mix. There’s now dozens of panels and speaker sessions each year focused on using technology to improve instruction. Those who can’t attend a session often follow along on Twitter, then visit the festival site to hear a recording of the presentation.

It’s the perfect forum to address some of the most common questions we hear from educators on how to improve online learning. But first our panels must get picked from the thousands that have been submitted. That’s where you come in. Sign up for a SXSW account and vote for the sessions you’d like to see. Online votes count for 30 percent of the selection criteria. We’ll develop presentation materials to share through this blog for any panels that make the cut.

Not sure which panels to pick? See if you can relate to any of the following situations.

  • My face-to-face class allows for creativity and critical thinking, but online all students do is read and take tests. There are ways to make online courses challenging and effective, and the proposed panel “Coding Meets Pedagogy” will show how it’s done. Or perhaps you want to debunk some of the assumptions about online courses through a panel focused on “Mythbusting Online Ed.”
  • I’m interested in teaching online, but my subject relies on videos and audio recordings to get the message across. No subject relies more on sound than music appreciation. Yet that is exactly the subject of one of UNCG’s most successful online courses. The panel “How the *** Do You Teach Music Online” will explain how multimedia can be the foundation of an online course. For an in-depth look at how to produce those multimedia assets, “Putting the Multi in Your Media” will share how to convert simple PowerPoint lessons into engaging recordings ideal for online consumption.
  • Online courses seem really dull and text heavy. I wish they were as engaging as the rest of the web. Educational games were among the most discussed topics at this year’s festival. When integrated into online courses, they can be highlty effective or a waste of resources. Our panel will go through “The Good, Bad, & Ugly” when it comes to the gaming approach for education.
What questions have we left out? Is there anything in particular you want to have answered at SXSW?

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