What Influences Student Learning In An Online Course

What’s an online course? I mean, a classes taught completely online.

What Influences Student Learning In An Online Course

As a high school teacher, I find it helpful to bring in a topic that has important, specific research around it, for my students to spend time with, including the opportunity to share their individual perspectives. Last semester we put together a discussion on The Chemical Theory of Education. We started by identifying some great articles in the Chemical Society of America’s publications and each student read a snippet or two of the articles. Topics ranged from contaminants in water and indoor spaces to chemicals used in medical products.

When we started thinking about a topic that is bigger than “how chemicals are used to create products in our homes,” what did it turn out to be? It turned out to be how we are influenced by the people we spend the most time with and interact with on social media platforms.

We asked students to write their own blog posts about the “Biggest Influencers in My Real Life.” Often they did so by identifying people they interact with on Facebook or Twitter, in addition to their professors or parents. When they added other writers they linked to blogs, websites, and articles that detailed how they had been influenced by the same people or ways they could identify where their perspectives come from. One student wrote:

“It was a different kind of influence; the influence that comes from being surrounded by the same people all the time and not having many chances to explore them away from home. I didn’t have the chance to interact with them outside of our classroom, so I had limited avenues of finding what they were like away from school. This was a huge part of why I felt inclined to read the books that my friends and I love so much — because they are reading about things and people that we don’t get a chance to engage with in our classrooms.”

Another added:

“I would get new points of reference and ask questions from others about certain parts of a day. When you’re in high school, teachers are not really willing to explain what parts of the day they’re going to have. So it’s important to have those points of reference, and it becomes easier to ask questions, which in turn makes it easier to get the information you need from your teacher.”

One student shared:

“My high school philosophy teacher was my biggest influence, and he always gave me a lot of good advice. I think he was really influential on me because he always helped explain concepts and really seemed to care what I thought about the material he was teaching us.”

Another one added:

“The topics that I felt the most compelled to read would be things such as: the impact of capitalism on the economy, and war and violence and how they fit into each other. There were a lot of books about those kinds of topics. I read these books to get information that I felt was deep about these kinds of topics. When you’re in high school, it can sometimes be difficult to talk to someone who has been through something similar and ask them what they think of what’s going on in your life. So books about how others have been going through the same thing can help you understand what’s happening.”

Most importantly, the students we worked with shared how they would be able to link back to these specific points of influence online in their own blogs in reference to actual experiences they had during that particular period of time. For example, one student’s blog was meant to be a culmination of the study, with different students writing a single blog entry on a theme of the topic at hand. Another student posted her blog article on social media platforms, specifically Facebook and Instagram.

The author is a high school English teacher. She has no ties to the chemical industry.

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