What Student Support Is Needed For Online Learning

New research shows that nearly half of US college students won’t take the online classes they’re assigned.

What Student Support Is Needed For Online Learning

Who doesn’t love a reason to learn? Especially a good reason to learn some history, financial management or Spanish to help you get over your fear of in-person classes? Unfortunately, in the world of online learning it can be hard to find motivation to begin your course. Well, that may not be the case in the future. In an interview with the BBC, Jim Davis, co-founder of Open University, said:

“The quality of online programmes is going to improve at a faster rate, for the simple reason that a lot of the students get lots of support while they’re in. A couple of years ago, a lot of students who had come here said, ‘I thought the online part was cool, I like it, I was interested in it, I would like to study here.’ They would generally make those 10, 15 or 20 attempts to study a year and then move on. That is not going to happen any more. We’ve seen that start to shift.”

The use of video conferencing to teach is one such improved way of connecting with students that will see the online sphere grow in an extremely personal and meaningful way. However, just because a single support mechanism is found online doesn’t mean people won’t still need the face-to-face support many best learn on the basis of real human interaction. And, it’s not just in higher education.

According to Gallup, young people would rather join a support group than have a friends group on Facebook. Who says social media networks have to be for sharing silly photos of ourselves doing the most important things in our lives? We should realize that getting help and feeling close with like-minded people can do wonders for our self-confidence and self-worth.

Perhaps the fastest growing platforms for connecting with people are the new places for ex-military personnel to find a purpose and veterans to recover from injuries or a breakdown. When I recently ran into a military friend while I was visiting the U.S., she just thanked me profusely for attending my Open University course. It was her first time online since the invasion of Iraq and she revealed to me that she had been having suicidal thoughts. Thanks to her open-minded participation in my course, she took herself off life support a few weeks ago. According to the Commonfund report, unemployment among veterans and civilian workers with disabilities remains above the national average and the majority of the two have problems with employment and economic self-sufficiency.

Out of thousands of survey participants, one common concern was the quality of the online learning experience. However, this issue doesn’t necessarily need to be a major barrier. Group discussions, reference notes, feedback and feedback from professors are a few practical ways to ensure the quality of online learning. Plus, if there’s one thing we all need right now, it’s a little bit of well-being. So what is the common thread between us and our youth, the boys and girls who are tearing through academic knowledge and getting useful work done at the same time? We’re looking for ways to support our lives and bridge the gap with our young people.

Aside from supporting them, we can also help them by a number of other means. Publicly-funded mental health initiatives can help many of the underprivileged or socially-vulnerable find a space to get into their studies, but more needs to be done offline. I remember attending a meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland where a high school teacher asked someone from a sports society to host a sports session to get the students talking to each other. It was also a chance for some students to discuss their hopes and dreams for their future. And what could be better than talking to people about an issue that’s close to everyone’s heart? We cannot rely on the government alone or on a government handout. Communities need to start finding solutions and they need to start looking for people to support them. It can be the best thing we can do for ourselves.

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"koller, Daphne. ""what We're Learning From Online Education"
“koller, Daphne. “”what We’re Learning From Online Education”