Making Learning Matter in the Digital Classroom

In a recent blog post, I discussed the noteworthy success of a web-based course launched by a research university in a high-profile initiative that emphasized online access as much as digital education. As I pointed out, student evaluations are almost never universally positive about large courses, particularly required courses with many drafts due for projects that can feel like “busy work” to skeptical undergraduates. I interviewed the course instructor, Alexandra Sartor, in this blog post and wanted to follow up with the instructional designer, Ava Arndt, as well.

A disclaimer is probably in order here, since I’ve known Arndt for more than a decade as a friend and colleague. It was from Arndt that I first heard the humorous expression about the shortcomings of traditional large and impersonal lecture courses that encourage passivity and distraction: “distance learning begins in the second row.”

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