What Do Unsuccessful Online Students Want Us To Know? Journal Of Asynchronous Learning Networks

Alumnus Alexander Schmitz is a proponent of asynchronous learning. Watch his talk on the Red Hat Education Marketing team.

What Do Unsuccessful Online Students Want Us To Know? Journal Of Asynchronous Learning Networks

Question: What do successful online students want you to know? Do they need to be told that they should study more, or should we explain all the well-understood and proven ways that online learning facilitates mastery and optimization?

Answer: The answer is sometimes both! Like in fact-based, close-to-the-student teaching, continuous learning, flexible schedules, fluid information exchange, and discovery tools.

Education may always begin with instruction, but as content and delivery increase, so do expectations for students. This comes in two flavors. First, content is often expected to only be learned within a passive learning environment where students sit at a teacher’s level or classroom and passively watch instruction via the classroom TV or other entertainment technologies. The very idea of learning is viewed as a “blank slate” where the student is just expected to sit there and react to everything being taught. That very is a student’s perception in a learning environment as passive, passive, passive.

The second approach is more on the active, enabling student involvement. If you have seen a student turn off the class TV, switch to a streaming online video and not pay attention to a lecture for the first half of the class, it isn’t really because they were “wasting” their time watching cartoons! No, they truly weren’t paying attention. It was because they had initiated an immersive part of learning – they were engaged in the class in a rather active and personalized manner through increasingly digital means. It’s very hard to forget what teachers as they themselves have repeatedly taught us – if you are not actively involved and participating, you are mostly likely not learning! That is why discovery tools, in particular, are pivotal – in online learning, they enable students to be much more engaged, aware, and ready to learn much faster and more efficiently.

So, what do successful online students (what we call T4 students) want you to know? They want to know that they need to do more: they need to focus more and realize that they can better learn much faster with the help of discovery tools – discovery models and discovery curriculum. They are interested in more, not only in everything that is core to the curriculum, but also in content beyond the core; they do not want just lecture notes, but they also want additional books, online information, and social media applications such as wikis, blogs, and beyond that, videos and virtual support.

It’s a simple, seemingly obvious point, but often overlooked in a learning environment where everything is about the passive learner, and less about the active learner. That is not only disappointing for our students, it is embarrassing for us, and it is costly to us if we miss out on potential. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And it doesn’t have to be limited to low-cost, electronic devices. They would rather see literacy teaching tools – action-packed, adaptive learning, where they are challenged daily to keep learning; highly personalized, proactive support; technology-driven technologies that enhance their learning in the classes they attend. They are, of course, increasingly expecting access to virtual classrooms as part of the learning experience, with its inherent higher expectations, but even this is often not available.

So, what can we do to make this happen? Education should move away from static, model-based teaching and support services and toward learning with discovery platforms and curriculum or what might be called ed-tech.

As online education becomes more personalized, innovative, and less homogeneous, we must adopt a blended or blended learning approach, where the content students are presented with must be aligned to what they should be learning. In my experience, most students are engaged and are learning in an active, not passive, way. Any ed-tech required by the teacher for a while doesn’t seem to work long term with students. Also, critical things students need to know in order to complete a critical task that will engage them (like learning to type or submitting papers for English and other STEM subjects) would usually not work as well if not exclusively handled by human staff. It’s quite clear that learning will become easier and more effective when student focus is shifted from what they should be learning, what they have been taught, what is vital for their future, what the teachers told them to do, to what they want to learn.

One word is needed here to answer: “Ed.”

Ed-tech not only is the key to teaching and learning changes in classrooms around the world, but also to education, business, government, and all new businesses looking to include it as one aspect of their competencies. To learn more about the Ed-Tech Knowledge Partner Network, please visit www.ExpertNetworks.com/Education.

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