Discussion: View Thread

  • 1.  In-person or Online

    Posted 07-25-2023 16:34:00

    When it comes to professional development, the question arises: which is better, in-person or online? I had the opportunity to attend a Teaching Institute in person for an entire week in the past, and now I have the chance to attend it again, but this time it is offered online over a span of four weeks. I'm curious to know, which method do you prefer for your own professional growth? If you are interested the provider is www.pcrest.com/program/

    Demetria Snowden
    Pacific Crest
    Plainfield IL

  • 2.  RE: In-person or Online

    Posted 07-30-2023 14:09:00

    I don't understand why it's a dichotomy. Sometimes one is better. Sometimes the other. What's way more important is the quality of presentation, personal readiness to absorb the topics, and attitude and energy of attendee. Is this material something you expect to get more out of a second time through (many are!)? Do you have the time and mental capacity for it? Sounds like you already have an idea of the overall quality of the provider, at least for in-person PD. 

    Barbra Steinhurst
    Portland CC
    Hillsboro OR

  • 3.  RE: In-person or Online

    Posted 08-07-2023 11:08:00

    Agreed. I teach an advanced course, "Programming in MATLAB" on-line. I have taught the course in-person and on-line and "hyflex" where some are in person and somnme are on-line. My students are mostly experienced students who can handle the on-line method just fine. On-line has some advantages for this class: 

    (1) Part of the class is for the students to do in-class assignments. When a student gets stuck on an assignment, they can share their screen with the whole class and the other students can help. It's better  than me looking over the shoulder of 1 student and ignoring the rest.

    (2) I get students form other colleges around the state.

    (3) It eliminates the travel time for students.

    (4) The class has a high pass rate: Only 0, 1, or 2 students out of 25-30 don't pass each semester.

    Carey Smith
    VCCCD, Oxnard College
    Oxnard CA

  • 4.  RE: In-person or Online

    Posted 08-24-2023 12:53:00

    Programming in MATLAB sounds like a really useful and valuable class. I like the online class format  because if they are very low cost I can attend them (unless they conflict with classes I am currently teaching). As an adjunK in the California Community College system, I make so little money that I cannot afford to travel. And of course the departments at community colleges don't allocate much for for adjunK travel etc. Thank you for allowing poor people to take your class. 

    Valerie Chau
    Adjunct Instructor, Math
    San Diego Miramar College
    San Diego CA

  • 5.  RE: In-person or Online

    Posted 08-15-2023 11:15:00

    The question to ask is what are the advantages/disadvantages of each, are you going to utilize the advantages and how do you cover for the disadvantages.

    These are some pros and cons that come to mind:


    Pros: Easier/faster to create breakout groups to discuss different class groupings/aspects of a topic. Easier/less expensive for people to attend. Not as much of a time commitment for attendees/presenters. Broader reach for the PD and requires less of an advertising window. Immediate access for presenters/attendees to their teaching materials (assuming most people attend on a computer they use for creating resources). 

    Cons: Easier for attendees to be distracted. There is a baseline technology knowledge to be able to attend/utilize some of the tools. If a tool is too new or not as common it needs to be explained before you have attendees utilize the technology/website. Conversations in the moment stop when the meeting is over.

    In person:

    Pros: Casual chit chat is much easier. You can have multiple side conversations going on at once. You get more of that person to person communication. Attendees are more likely to be focused as they have travelled/committed funds to attend. Not as time restricted. Hallway conversations lead to deeper exploration and understanding. 

    Cons: Harder to do focused groupwork beyond "work with your neighbors" unless you want everyone to get up. Easier side conversations can mean harder to bring groups back together, get started, and generally control the room.

    These are just some pros and cons that came to the top of my mind.

    Matthew Lee
    Oakton Community College
    Des Plaines IL

  • 6.  RE: In-person or Online

    Posted 08-22-2023 11:20:00

    Love this question and the discussion it's generated.

    Over the last few years I've helped run MAA Project NExT (for new math faculty - mostly at 4-year schools, but a few at community colleges) both virtually and in person. While it's true that some of the individual sessions work fairly well in both modalities, it's the community building that's so, so much better in person. We worked hard in the summer of 2020 and 2021 to get NExTers into virtual settings where they'd bond – lots of breakout rooms, drop-in spaces for morning coffee, yoga, lunch, LGBT+ issues, relatively constant chatter on MAA Connect (same platform as this) and Slack (one year.) None of it came close to the in-person bonding that takes place between sessions, while milling about making dinner plans, heading out for a beer – or to comedy night or a drag show. 

    So yes, there's many tradeoffs when comparing the two – including the massive carbon footprint of everyone flying across the country to a single location. But the community building is the biggest benefit of in-person PD.


    David Kung
    Lexington Park MD