May 2020 Advocate: Resisting the push to make distance ed. the new normal


Resisting the push to make distance ed. the new normal

Now that the worldwide pandemic has forced virtually all education to become “online education” or “distance learning,” there are suggestions—especially from administrators, consultants, government officials, and tech entrepreneurs* –that these new “modalities” will become the standard form of instruction going forward. There certainly can be positive aspects of online courses—well-planned online classes can allow students to learn at their own pace and schedules, some online learning materials can adjust to a wide range of learners’ different skill levels; in some cases, creative online instructional tools can provide more innovative, active learning experiences for students, and, of course, distance learning allows faculty and students to avoid health risks during the pandemic. There are, however, many very concerning factors that raise serious questions about the rush to the new world of online ed., especially for community college students. (See these related articles in this issue: Concerns raised by Canvas/Instructure sale to private equity firm for $2 billionStudents’ views on online ed., Selected readings on the impact of online education.)

With so many new and long-time online instructors now teaching from home, AFT 1493 is very interested in hearing faculty opinions on teaching using remote technologies. The article in this issue, Face-to-face teaching must remain the core of higher ed.,” by Rika Yonemura-Fabian presents one viewpoint. We hope to have an extended discussion of the use of online instruction in our colleges in the first issue of the Advocate in the Fall 2020 semester. Please send us your thoughts on and experiences with teaching online courses in SMCCCD, whether you are doing it for the first time or you have been teaching online for a while. Email Eric Brenner, Advocate Editor, at:

* One example of the push towards more widespread online ed.:
Tom Epstein. “California must seize the opportunity to become a pioneer in online higher education.” Cal Matters March 30, 2020.