Web-based teaching: Surviving and thriving in a pluralistic online world



Online education in the field of Library and Information Science facilitates enrollment and participation by diverse and geographically dispersed students. However, questions have arisen about how best to administer this mode of delivery and how to address differences in the cultural, linguistic, and pedagogical expectations of students and faculty that may affect learning outcomes.

Session Content

Panelists will address the following issues and questions in a conversational, interactive format, with opportunity for participation and contribution by attendees:

  • FACULTY: How does a school recruit a pluralistic faculty with both subject expertise and willingness to teach online? Is a diversified faculty the most beneficial for an online program, or do technical skills and teaching philosophies outweigh demographic considerations? (Bajjaly)

  • STUDENT SUPPORT: How can student services (e.g. advising, career counseling and placement, IT support) meet the differing needs of a pluralistic online student body? Are students' expectations of a single online course different from students' expectations of an entire online program? (Riggs)

  • TECHNOLOGY: What are the major challenges for faculty in dealing with increasingly pluralistic technologies: technical support, platform migration, constantly expanding applications? (Lester)

  • LEARNING: Are there differences in learning by students in an online class compared to the traditional classroom in terms of rate of achievement of substantive outcomes, changes in attitude, or development of process skills? Are there differences by cultural, linguistic, or age groups? Are all students equally prepared to learn in an online environment regardless of cultural background? (Roderer)

  • CLIMATE: How does an instructor deal effectively with cultural clashes and conflicts among heterogeneous students in an online class? What structures in online classes facilitate building trust between faculty and students and among students of diverse backgrounds? (Hahn)

  • ADMINISTRATION: What training and support is needed to enable successful teaching in an online environment to a diverse student body? How does an administrator provide the answers to all the questions in all the categories? (Aversa)

Panelists have a wide variety of personal experiences in administering Web-based programs, teaching online courses, and providing student and technology support, and/or have conducted formal research studies comparing the effectiveness of online vs. traditional classroom instruction.

Session delivery:

Barlow will introduce each panelist who will speak on their aspect of online teaching for about 5 minutes. After each presentation, other panelists will make additional comments on that topic, followed by questions and comments from the audience. After all six presentations are completed (which will take about an hour or so), the floor will be open for 20–25 minutes of general discussion. Hahn will act as recorder to capture and compile the additional comments.

Session outcome:

The panelists' and audience participants' answers to the questions, as well as additional questions and observations will be compiled as the session progresses and a final document will be made available at the SIG/ED Wiki and e-mailed to all attendees who wish to receive it.