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Contents contributed and discussions participated by alexandra m. pickett

alexandra m. pickett

Does Class Size Matter? - Distance Education Report Article - 1 views

    Does class size matter?
    This article originally appeared in Distance Education Report.

    I've been the director of online education at my institution since 2007. One question I've been asked many times over the years is "What is the optimal number of students to have in an online class?" My usual response is to pretend I didn't hear the question and walk away as quickly as possible.

    Well, that's not totally true. But as you can imagine, this is not an easy question to answer, as there are many variables that come into play--the topic of the class, the overall course design, the academic rank of students in the class, the experience of the instructor teaching the class, etc.

    I've had many interesting discussions with students, staff and administrators over the years about enrollments in online courses. When I first started teaching online, my courses would fill almost immediately, sometimes within minutes. Inevitably, students would contact me and request an override for the course - not just one or two students, but dozens upon dozens of students. They were usually surprised when I said no. These frustrated students would often reply with a comment such as, "But it's an online class, so you can take unlimited numbers of students and it won't be any additional work for you."

    Surprisingly, I've heard this kind of comment from some faculty, staff and administrators as well. I usually view these interactions as opportunities to offer a bit of education about online learning. So I might say, for example, that if I had seven graded assignments in my online course, and 25 students, I would end up grading 175 assignments--with the emphasis on "I."

    However, if I doubled the number of students in my class and graded seven assignments for 50 students, that would be 350 assignments to grade. There were also 22 quizzes, two exams and multiple
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