It's clear: academia is now teaching completely virtually for the rest of the semester (and possibly beyond).  In last month's blog post, I wrote about resources available for quickly transitioning your class online.  In this post, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into the question "What's the difference between teaching I-O in Intro online versus in face-to-face classes?"

To answer this question, I spoke (socially distanced, of course!) with two Intro Psych instructors: Caitlin Lapine and Tom DePatie.  Caitlin is an Instructor at Touro College as well as an adjunct at other institutions and Tom is a PhD student at Hofstra University where he adjunct teaches Intro Psych.  Both have taught Intro in-person and interestingly, both have been forced (this semester) to teach the I-O component of their Intro classes online.  Therefore, I thought they could offer me a unique perspective about the challenges and opportunities associated with teaching I-O in online Intro classes.

A few themes emerged in what they had to say!

Challenge: Less Opportunities for Expanded Discussion in Online Classes

One theme that emerged in what they had to say was that that it's more challenging to expand the discussion and go into more detail in online settings as compared to face-to-face classes.  Part of this has to do with the format.  As Caitlin said, "When teaching online, you are unable to have natural discussions and answer questions about I-O in real time, which is often very valuable in introducing and conveying all of the different opportunities within the I-O field. Students often have many questions."  This is especially an issue if you know the material well; as Tom said, "I am more comfortable with the IO material than some material in Intro (going off on tangents, etc), so I'd be able to go more in depth and pull from work examples/life experience more."  Being online would stop him from being able to do this as easily.

Opportunity: Nontraditional Activities in Online Classes

Although it might be tougher to have in-depth discussions in online settings, being online makes it easier to do interesting and unique activities that might be tougher to do in person.  Tom suggests "I think teaching IO on-line could work better if it was looked at almost like a project based course.  A large team-based consulting project with check-ins and presentations."  Project-based activities could be done in-person as well, but the online venue might be especially suited for this.

Caitlin gives an interesting example from her class: "For instance, I’ll ask students to explore the SIOP website or a related source. This has the advantage of each student being able to dive deeper into a unique, specific area of I-O that is of particular interest to them. Some students will certainly do this task without much interest or focus, but for many students, this allows them a chance to research a career path that they may wish to explore, without having to raise their hand and ask in a crowded class, with potential fear of derailing a class discussion for personal interest."

Which is Better, Online or In-Person? 

As in most things in Psychology, the answer is "it depends!"  Or perhaps more accurately, the answer is "both!"  When you are thinking about teaching I-O in Intro (either in-person or online), think about the opportunities you have in the venue you are teaching in to make as engaging of a learning experience as possible!

What exactly is GIT?  Check out our first blog post explaining who we are!

Do you have any other thoughts on how SIOP members can be involved with GIT’s efforts?  We would love to hear from you!  If you have any questions, ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, please feel free to contact anyone from the task force!  This blog is maintained by Nick Salter

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