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Online Education: an Evolution

Clyde Moneyhun portrait
Boise State Writing Faculty, Clyde Moneyhun, in his office on campus. Photo by Arlie Sommer

Boise State writing professor, Clyde Moneyhun, wasn’t always singing the praises of online education. One of his first experiences with the format was a group email discussion he incorporated into a course almost 20 years ago. “Dark screen, green letters. I’m telling you, it was ancient.”

Despite the clunky introduction to digital platforms, Moneyhun had a positive take-away that still rings true for him today. 

“When you teach a face-to-face class, there are the bold kids, the five kids in class who do all the talking, the five kids who never say a word and the rest of us, like me, in between. Well, in an online class, oh no, everybody talks and everybody talks about the same amount,” Moneyhun exclaimed as he reminisced about his first online teaching experiences. 

Moneyhun found that when students can interact in virtual spaces, shy or outgoing, they feel more comfortable contributing to the conversation. 

“It evens the playing field and it’s just amazing.”

Put to the test

Flash-forward to the future—online education has matured and online students are thriving. Students not only grow and learn in an online environment, they can flourish.

“The learning management system interface compels the students to interact with each other, in writing, on the discussion board,” said Moneyhun.

He’s confident students in his online courses are getting the meaningful experiences they’re entitled to from a university course.

“You get student evaluations at the end of the semester and they’re asked explicitly, ‘How was the interaction? Did you interact with each other? Was your teacher present?’ And they all went, ‘Oh, yeah, absolutely.’”

Moneyhun attributes their zeal not only to his teaching but also to the inclusive and accessible technology that allows so many diverse students to attend and participate in his classes.

To further ensure the success of an online course, Boise State follows up with students after the completion of a semester. They complete an additional review of the materials, student responses and interaction with the content. The course evolves and improves based on what resonated throughout the semester for all participants.

“I lost all my fears about what you lose, you know, by not teaching face-to-face. You replace it with these other class things that are great.”

Meaningful feedback and connection

Moneyhun still teaches in-person courses in addition to online. He’s used the techniques learned through teaching online to improve all of his courses.

“Everything now goes on the learning management system. It’s more fair to them to have everything completely accessible 24/7.”

He believes online education has transformed and improved university classrooms in general.

“Your most important function as a teacher is feedback, giving feedback,” and Moneyhun says that in an online classroom he has more time to focus on what the students are creating, rather than his own output. “My students now write much, much more than they do in a face-to-face class. They interact more. They give each other more feedback.”

He says it’s helpful to have all the course materials, teacher and student created, in one place.

“Every piece of writing they provide, every question they ask, drafts, revisions, all that stuff. It clarifies. And I think my feedback has gotten better as a result, I really do.”

Moneyhun recommends trying an online course to everyone. He offers reassurance to those who are nervous.

“You just have to try and you will see that this connection can be just as real as the face-to-face connection.”

This video is available with captions and a video transcript.

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