A professor at the Sam Houston State University, Rebecca Bustamante, says students have a tendency to shut down when talking about race during class discussions. This can pose a challenge when teaching a course about diversity issues. It gets even more difficult when the course is then taught online.
Courses in diversity are nothing new, they are a standard in education and educational-leadership programs. Although professors who teach them haven’t had many problems, they understand that personal attacks and conflicts are a possibility. It is a critical to build an online community and establish trust to keep the course on track.
Professors also say that students are much more open and honest about their thoughts and experiences, and this could be from the online environment. It also frees students from the awkwardness of confronting difficult topics in person.
Although there are pros to the situation, there are also cons. Teaching diversity through an online format is not ideal. An assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln believes that, “Being face-to-face, you are actually able to hear and see the passion, not having that face-to-face connection inhibits the class a little bit.”.
Although another assistant professor at the Sam Houston State says it is doable. The general consensus is, that although online learning can pose a challenge, it’s up to the professor to create innovative ideas to properly teach students.
In this case some professors turn to using video to bring body language into the online classroom. One professor at West Virginia University, says that she requires students to all gather at the same time over an online video conference system, which allows them to have a real-time discussion and get to know one another.
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