What Is Online Learning?

Most internet schools require that you have a connection in order to participate. Here’s what it means to participate in online courses.

What Is Online Learning?

By Kat Bustillos, BEAT Magazine

A positive digital outlook can alter and even alter how you think about learning. As an educator, you try to take what you do well into the digital age with you wherever you go, and bringing that insight to your online course can open up a whole new perspective.

“The flip side of a digital perspective is a look at the world through digital lenses and a fresh way of thinking,” said Steven Korotzer, a CSUF professor of English at Cal State Fullerton, who started teaching his online classes to students in Beijing in 2017.

Digital courses vary in structure and content. They are either self-paced online, accessible 24/7 from your phone, laptop or desktop, or tailored to work with specialized methods. Whatever the digital course is, there are three main benefits that the age of online learning can bring:

1. Student ownership.

“Students and instructors tend to be more hands-on with their online courses. They are more supportive, take ownership of their work and are more engaged with the coursework they do,” Korotzer said.

When traditional, in-person courses are given to students, the instructors are also in a position of helping the students, not just testing them and telling them what to do.

2. Flexibility.

In-person courses, physical locations and brick-and-mortar labs are important to universities. As the online alternative increases, however, faculty members are often asked to take different approaches to classrooms. Students may bring their own online device and classroom settings may not always allow online learning.

While in-person classes can be more complicated than online ones, the training and classroom interaction make in-person courses at universities a labor-intensive process.

The 20 hours of in-person work every week and the unfamiliarity of making sense of data when speaking with instructors leave students hesitant to start online course, according to Korotzer.

But being prepared to take a hit in attendance is not a disadvantage when online courses are developed. The implications of a low in-person attendance or phone enrollment over a previous history of attendance made at a physical space can easily be overcome, he said.

3. New ways of studying.

In some respects, online classes are similar to the traditional classroom—students write essays and need to complete assignments—but when students are tutored via online video, there are new dynamics that factor into the classroom experience.

“Students can at times be rude to the tutors and see if that’s true of the rest of the class. The real fun comes when you see if you can not only pass the course, but how you’ll do it. Now you’re not doing it at the speed of the teacher, but at your own speed,” Korotzer said.

If the students work together, however, Korotzer said that online classes can bring out high-level communication skills.

“Students are often in a unique position when learning a material online. You’re working through an issue without needing to understand it in great detail, and then you’re asked to speak about it in a more level way,” Korotzer said.

online platforms can also link students together, allowing for group projects and opportunities to learn from others.

The qualities of online learning make certain aspects of a traditional course extremely work-intensive and distracting. For instance, when you show up to a lecture you may have 15 or 20 students standing and waiting for the professor to start. Online courses offer a different perspective.

The online classes that Korotzer has taught can make for a great starting point for a student to get started in online learning. It’s the best way to see the practice and practicalities of what online courses can accomplish.

Korotzer is an assistant dean at CSUF and is the founding director of the Chapman Center for Creative Teaching.

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