At some point in the recent past, our last department chairman (now retired) and our last provost (now also retired) signed our department up for a program that allows active duty military personnel to get history degrees from our school entirely through distance education. The program has the potential to make a lot of money for both the department and the university, and I’m certain that they simply decided that there was no way they were going to leave that money on the table.
While this program is being presented as something that the department can choose to participate in, it is abundantly clear to me now that it is going to go on whether tenure track faculty decide to participate in it or not. All of us in the department, me included, have serious qualms about how any online or distance ed history course would stack up on an educational level against anything offered on campus, but I’m starting to think that it might be better if we went into this with our eyes open to get a share of the money and to mitigate the difference between online and on campus classes.
It’s clear though that if I go through this, I need a serious attitude adjustment. That’s where I could use some help from you, dear readers. Is it possible to teach an online history course that isn’t inferior to a face-to-face offering? If so, what do you have to do to make it that way? Also, while I’m at it, if I’m going to sell my soul to the online Devil (so to speak), what should my price be?
All advice, by comments or via e-mail, would be very much appreciated.
Update: If you’d like to see a good summary of the always evil position, UD has one of the best I’ve ever seen up today. It’s going to be hard to make me feel better about what’s going to be done around here after reading that, but I’d still like to try.