E-literate – What We Are Learning About Online Learning

Niche educators are teaching students how to learn online, and what skills they’re learning.

E-literate - What We Are Learning About Online Learning

For many students, the path to learning occurs online.

Since its infancy, online learning has played a critical role in the quality and diversity of classroom education. Current research underscores the need for this method of instruction in today’s student landscape, as more than half of all US students report taking at least one online course in 2018. So, with data showing such a high degree of interest in online learning, what does the future hold for this technology?

What Kind of Instruction Matter?

While online learning can be tailored to student or instructor interests, the content of the course matters more. According to Gull, it’s up to instructors to ensure that the content they deliver online mirrors the strengths of their content area. This can enhance online learning by creating a solid foundation.

For example, as a Digital Education Expert for Anabolics Inc., Patrick Cox is tasked with providing his students with the information necessary to achieve their learning objectives. This can be a challenge when courses are centered on technology, which requires a learner-specific approach to both learning strategies and content.

“Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with course material centered on technology, you have to think about how the technology will relate to the content you are teaching,” Cox explains. “You can’t just throw a camera on a computer screen, and expect that to be the same as a photo of a Polaroid.”

In order to ensure that students are learning from the books they are being presented with, Cox carefully selects which resources to include in his course content. In some cases, he revisits previous work he has done in order to bolster current learning activities.

“Most students are amenable to being given an opportunity to see themselves doing a project, rather than having someone do the same for them,” Cox says. “These students might not necessarily have mastery of the materials you are presenting, but they want to get a taste of what it’s like to be in the lab.”

Types of Online or Online Learning

Not all education is suitable for students who work at jobs full-time, or who work with computers, but having your product ready for downloading from a server isn’t a good option either. “Research shows that developing an online-ready product when students are not effectively engaged in the classroom is a recipe for disaster,” Cox notes.

Digital learning is more than just the ability to download a course section at any time online. For users who are working on assignments, online learning can be beneficial in managing time spent on projects, interacting with peers, and completing the materials themselves.

Advantages of Online Learning

Some students, including students who have more typical working arrangements, say that online learning helps them stay on top of a demanding workload.

“I work from home, and if there is a paper due, I’m always on deadline,” said K. Carpenter, an international graduate student at Southeast Missouri State University who has taken numerous online courses over the last few years.

In addition to managing her workload, Carpenter loves the personal way in which she learns through her online classes. The self-paced nature of online education allows for more personal interactions.

“The interaction with other students has been great,” she says. “The professor and professor advise and teach us, but also facilitates conversations and teach us, and I love that!”

Considering online learning for your student? For people on both sides of the online learning aisle, what is the most beneficial advantage to these modes of education? Has the form of education you choose ever changed with the evolution of students and the educational needs of today’s workforce?

This story was originally published by Coursera and is reproduced here as part of the Next Chapter.

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