Online education is an integral part of modern day educational institutions, but it also has parallels to the tried and true approaches of traditional classroom learning. So what exactly is the connection between the two, and how can one become one’s own personal “school”?
How Online Learning And Classroom Learning The Same
Jennifer Tremblay French from Bowling Green State University knows what she likes doing and what she’s not good at. In her online course on mental health, Jennifer wants to ensure that her students don’t drop out, don’t become overwhelmed, and she hopes they’ll gain something interesting about mental health, its connections, and how it’s treated on a daily basis. But she has to be a little careful. If she leaves out some things, if the students are not entirely and completely clear-eyed about them, it could very well set the class back, making the entire experience less meaningful and effective.
Jennifer feels privileged to be able to offer her lessons to a kind of population that’s beyond the reach of most private higher education, such as veterans, pregnant women, people who live in rural or remote communities and so on. For them, helping them understand and deal with mental health issues can be more complicated than it is for those living in a metropolitan region. So she’s a little bit wary about whether they’re real enough. After all, online classes may offer students more flexibility and accessibility, but when they’re not accessible to some people, when their instructors may not be welcoming, their impacts can be difficult to measure.
For Jennifer, figuring out how to keep both her students and the community at large engaged is her ultimate goal. And there are many ways to accomplish that goal. One is by inviting as many as possible to each and every class and by specifically trying to interact with them, engage them in the classes and bring them along. As Jennifer explains, “It’s important for students to feel comfortable as much as possible, and that’s how we hope to offer a good experience for everyone involved, no matter who they are or where they are.” She’s right, of course, that that goal is a bit elusive. Of course all lessons and classes, no matter how well-designed and thoughtfully presented, will be more effective if they are accessible to every student, no matter where they are. But clearly a more diverse and diverse student population will have a far better experience at least with the material if they aren’t intimidated by it.
Perhaps the trickiest part of Jennifer’s work is building mutual trust and respect, as well as understanding between students and professors that spans across the virtual and the real worlds. Even though technology has a way of being both distracting and distracting when it comes to their learning, online or in-person classes, students can quickly become overwhelmed by the quantity and complexity of online content, and this can sometimes lead to boredom or inattention. In order to create more of a lasting and positive experience for students, teachers are needed to act as guides, but in order to do that, Jennifer says it’s very important to have “really good communication” and to have meaningful connections with her students. To do this, though, she’s had to work hard to both understand and embrace her students and to see every learning opportunity as a teachable moment.
By learning from her students, Jennifer is able to help them better understand themselves, their learning styles, and how they might want to tackle their learning in the future. While online education has its detractors, and online learning programs can fall short of all expectations, it’s undeniable that online education and classroom learning have many similarities, as well as many more that make them totally complementary and mutually beneficial. As more students discover the wonders of online learning, and as more do what Jennifer Tremblay French is doing, online and classroom learning can and will become more and more effective together.