Students today have different challenges than we faced as undergraduates. The biggest one is distraction. Between computers and cell phones, students are always engaged with technology. As teachers, the trick is to use it to our advantage. The internet is an amazing resource. We can generate web-based assignments, which get students doing their homework while surfing. From current events footage to videos and blogs we can also use the internet to liven up our lectures. I have participated in pilot projects for upgrades of course management systems as well as attended workshops on instructional technologies in attempts to keep a step ahead of students and develop the most effective uses of technology for my classes. I have experimented with different uses of the internet with blogs, Blackboard, WordPress, Moodle, HTML. The e-learning project sprang from the idea that students liked to develop online identities and that it would help them with their studies and careers.
As a teacher, I enjoy face-to-face interaction with students and use the internet as a supplement to my courses. Distance Education, however, is a global reality. The use of social media has exploded in the last few years. Students have embraced it for social interactions, but also academics. Developing and teaching the full online courses has given me an appreciation for this form of instruction. Interactivity is accomplished through synchronous communication interfaces, dynamic discussion boards, and other technologies. Course enrolments are limited by how many students an instructor can handle. A new type of instruction has emerged in which the instructor is taken out of the system, producing a forum that is infinitely scalable. There are obvious limitations to this form of instruction, but for widespread information dissemination from reputable sources this is an excellent way for serving a wide range of learners. I do not see them replacing an undergraduate experience in the main teaching system, as skill building, experiential learning activities, face-to-face collaborations, and field explorations and research cannot be simulated.