Pay Attention to the Man behind the Curtain! The Human Side of Online Learning

Having recently delved neck-deep into the waters of mass online learning, I wanted to repost this blog I wrote a few months ago on The Werner Institute Blog, in order to hear more voices on this. The more I learn, the more convinced I am that the field of negotiation and dispute resolution is uniquely posed to be an important voice in the Online Learning Wars. Read on, roll your sleeves up and join the fray!


Online education is here to stay. How ‘good’ will it be? That depends on the educators and their ability to humanize online education. This is a call-to-arms, and the fields of negotiation and dispute resolution should be on the front lines.

I am an online educator.


I know my students’ learning aptitude and starting points. I also know their names, jobs and hobbies. Oh, and their pets’ names, their kids’ talents and their taste in TV shows. I know which one of my students constantly fights with her mom, who just went through divorce, whose husband reads the class material over her shoulder - and whether they disagreed over it. All of this gets folded back into our class conversations, which conveniently focus on topics of negotiation and conflict.

At The Werner Institute at Creighton University’s School of Law, we offered a master’s program in negotiation and dispute resolution on campus - and then decided to eliminate geography as a barrier to education by offering it online. With our faculty’s background in what is now being called “traditional classroom teaching”, we decided to hold ourselves to the same standards in online education – by eliminating ‘distance’ as an acceptable excuse for anything less than excellence in our teaching.

Read the rest here.

Views: 130

Comment by Matthew Todd on January 15, 2013 at 11:56am

I think it’s a great opportunity to share NDR best practices with people everywhere. The bigger the community of educated individuals with ADR knowledge the better!  I will revisit this post with some more feedback when I have more than a few weeks of online NDR leaning behind me.


Comment by Noam Ebner on January 15, 2013 at 4:27pm

Looking forward to that :-)

Comment by Noam Ebner on January 27, 2013 at 9:31am

Following up on this, with this closely related column from CNN:

Comment by Jeff Thompson on January 28, 2013 at 1:30pm


Great, very relevant, article.

Loved this part:

"The course material is almost secondary to the engagement. We go to college for the people."

It will be interesting to see how programs embrace (note: not utilize but actually embrace) video, both live and recorded, to compliment the text-based portions of classes.  This is particularly important for conflict resolution related courses as they deal with human interaction content.

Comment by Noam Ebner on February 11, 2013 at 4:35am

@Jeff - Always ahead of us on that, you are. Big news ahead: At Werner, we're in the process of transitioning to a new learning management system, one in which video is just a click of a button. I have big plans for that.


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