We were having a discussion in our ECMP 455 class last week regarding online learning. Some of the questions brought up and discussed were:
- Does the fact that one student sees the nature of online learning less social than the other simply a personality issue or is there something about the experience?
- How do we get support? How do you get help in other course?
- How do we balance the guided, structure nature of our current schools with the potential need and desire to create life long, independent learners?
I found this conversation very interesting as I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this online class. Before taking this class I was a bit weary because I had never taken an online class before. I am a very personable person and enjoy F2F interaction. Thus, I thought I wouldn’t like this class because this interaction would be missing. However, this was totally opposite. I have developed some of my best professional relationships through this course. Plus it is not restricted to just the 20 people taking my class. I have been able to gain relationships with many other professionals through the world.
1. Does the fact that one student sees the nature of online learning less social than the other simply a personality issue or is there something about the experience?
I don’t think this is just a personality issue because at the beginning of this course I would have considered my personality to not match the format of the course. However, I engaged in the class thoroughly. I took any opportunity that I could as a learning experience. These experiences have helped me develop a great deal as a professional as I have gained further insight about topics, I have built a network of professionals who are available and willing ready to help me, and I have been able to explore topics on my own and use critical thinking skills instead of the ‘stuffing model’ of other classes.
“Teachers and learners become information artisans, mining for information raw materials, remixing and re-networking what they find, and then communicating their new and valuable information products for re-mining.” — Warlick
2. How do we get support? How do you get help in other course?
I have found that with this course I have had the most access to support. The best thing about my support team is that it comes from experts of the topic. I was able to build this ‘network of experts’ through Twitter. I think Twitter is a great application that has helped me build my PLN, but it is not about the application that makes my PLN, it is the people! I have found with other courses I have to wait for answers, but with this course I am able to connect with people when I need help and I am able to help others when they need help.
3. How do we balance the guided, structure nature of our current schools with the potential need and desire to create life long, independent learners?
I think inquiry based learning is the way to go. It will feel uncomfortable for learners, educators, parents, etc for a while; however, the benefits of it are much more than a traditional based classroom. We need to facilitate and guide our students in their learning. I have encountered this model a few times through this semester and I have felt the most growth from those classes. I have actually for the first time in a while been able to truthfully focus on the process, not the product. I had always said that this is important, as in education it was drilled into our heads (in a traditional classroom), but I never knew what it meant or felt like. This semester and this class has helped me a great deal to focus on the process and in the end the product does turn out much better. I do think it is important to have structure in our classrooms; however, the use of a dynamic curriculum is so important. We need to capitalize on those serendipitous moments our students encounter.