Today… my thoughts as I start… online learning

Attempting to answer the following:

“Why have we moved so many courses online? As students, do you feel like online courses are as good as face-to-face courses? What are the major differences between online and FTF courses for you as a student? Whether you have taught one or not, what do you think the differences are for the instructor? How do we know if the formats require different skills or result in different learning outcomes? Do we?”

Image from http://elearningblog.tugraz.at/archives/3333

Why online?  Time. Cost. Flexible. Connected. Currency. Equity. Impersonal. Structure. Convenience. Disconnection. Routine.   These are just a few of the words that pop into my head when I think of online learning, but does I left one out — easy.  Although these words all “work” in an online environment, do they equate to ease?  I don’t think so.  Sure I love the flexibility of online learning, but one of the largest obstacles which causes me the most stress in an online learning is the ease.  It is easy to put off readings, easy to put off assignments, easy to fall out of routine, easy to not be motivated.  These are all things that have happened to me at one point or another and I bet it happens to everyone who has ever learned online.

I believe that there is an approach that both the learner and instructor must take in online learning.  Are instructors prepared to take the same information and “make it different”.  Fortunately for me, I have had more instructors who have realized there is a difference and made it work.  For the learner, the way to approach has to also change.  Sure you can connect with those people from a variety of locations, but does that make it better… or worse?  I know for me, I strive hard to make sure that if placed in groups, I work hard to make sure I am attentive to the needs of my fellow classmates.  Sure I work well under pressure and it forces me into a mode of reflection and review, but what about my classmates?  Does online learning force us to be something we are not?  I am not looking for regurgitation of material in the form of a powerpoint with added audio.  I want discourse – stretching my own thoughts, pairing it with my own experiences and culminating with a valuable learning experience.  I want the “oh wow” feeling and the sense of accomplishment by getting from one point to another with the help and support of my instructor and fellow classmates.

Some questions I hope to answer this semester is how I can be better prepared to teach online while identifying the same things that cause me the most stress as a student and well, be a better online learner.

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