Online learning experiences are filled with challenges and rewards. What draws women to online learning?
What Draws Women To Online Learning
“There were so many women this past semester, and it wasn’t me who did it,” Suki Berry said at her first DevMakesQconnect workshop last week. “I was just not talking to anyone.”
“But now it is.”
Brightstaren will be transitioning Suki to a junior outreach designer by the end of this month — an extremely important investment for the short-term standing and long-term success of this program. I’m sure there are many similar stories of women’s faith in the site in this series.
Our research on women attending online learning experiences didn’t focus solely on the 33,000+ students and a meager contribution to online learning earnings, but also looked at their educational motivations and how many of them selected an online course as part of a large enterprise.
As the founder and CEO of DevMakesQconnect, I don’t expect the list of attributes that contribute to the average achievement of most students we interact with to be all that different. I didn’t do it for fun.
I didn’t do it out of an infatuation with my LinkedIn profile.
I didn’t do it because online learning was the only way I could pay my way through graduate school.
I did it because I wasn’t winning.
The same women who are drawn to online learning as a means of avoiding office politics and financial obligations — yet who feel self-conscious in front of large crowds and constantly suppress their enthusiasm about their learning options — are also drawn to it as an antidote to self-doubt. For many students, online learning feels like a natural extension of their new career path.
Online Learning is Different
Two months into my first online semester, we’re embarking on a two-year course with Karina Teller, an executive in the company that keeps us online for part of the day. It’s an enormous leap of faith to step away from the proverbial desk in the afternoon — do you miss the little things about the day-to-day operations of the real world? — and learn something different.
On her first day, I asked Karina how much her old life has changed since starting in this program. And she told me. One day she arrived at her office before 7:00 a.m. for the entire week, arriving at 9:00 a.m. each morning — a full 45 minutes before the organization’s usual start time. She looked out at the crowded walls of her office with a fresh perspective.
This is the coworker she had been, but now she’s empowered in a completely different way.
“I get up before my team,” she said. “I drive an hour to Todos Santos, I take my dog out in the morning. I’ve told myself that I’m going to keep doing it that way.”
“I love the diversity of it,” she said, referring to her mix of English, Spanish, Italian, French, and American. “I can listen to two books, speak Italian, and the rest of the day I can do creative work in my native language. And I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do all of this in a comfortable, confident way. I’ve never felt so right in my whole life.
A second female cohort member brought the panel to a close with her story. Though I had the opportunity to see her until the late morning that night, we spent almost no time alone. Two couples had already arrived, yet she reached out in person to make sure I had a good time at lunch.
This isn’t just a case of familiarity breeding contempt or anxiety at lonely times of the day. This is self-confidence. I feel like I can bring my lunch to others around the table.
“I want to share it all with you,” Sara said.
Up until this point in my education journey, I had been playing around with the idea of who I wanted to be — a “thinking” person who plays video games, chats with friends on chat rooms, and goes on multiple conference calls in the same day. Online learning isn’t going to exactly let me, but I see it as empowering in terms of giving me space to find my voice and direction.
What draws us to online learning? After surveying all of our conversations from this series, it’s clear to me that women often come to online learning because they’ve felt overwhelmed.
“The world’s a complicated place for so many,” Tadejsova said. “Online learning is a way to reclaim some of that. I love this culture of discovery, this tradition of doing things not according to the rules.”
She spoke to this rare openness, something we often only see in white boys who are president.
Why else would a 17-year-old pursue a black-belt in karate instead of working a job on a city