What We’re Learning From Online Education (daphne Koller)

When asked what it was like in the elevator, Koller joked that she could sing, dance, and act.

What We're Learning From Online Education (daphne Koller)

What We’re Learning From Online Education (Koller)

My work with learners transitioning from traditional teaching to online learning is made even more challenging by some of the decisions they make once they get into the class. For instance, what should they bring? How should they share the work they learn? How should they find out about upcoming classes? My approach helps people make choices with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Here are five ways I make sure my students enjoy their education.

A big part of what makes a good online learning experience is interactivity. This means some learners ask that their textbooks be offered in interactive form or that they be automatically updated with the most current material. As an instructional technology developer, though, I don’t have that kind of money. That’s what makes me interested in using virtual animals, foreign lands, immersive technologies and more to help students learn. But with little money to play with, how do I encourage a student to feel comfortable with interacting with a digital animal? By adjusting visuals that make learning interactive. Of course, we don’t offer virtual animals for every conversation, but we do design visual cues to raise the experience to that higher level when needed. To me, that’s the key to a good online learning experience.

Passion is important for learning and it doesn’t have to mean you have to sit in front of a desk and look through a window. We need high-functioning learners who are engaged and that means keeping tech and design in mind. To me, it’s important that your classroom feels like the moment of real interaction. To me, that means choosing two seats near the front of the room to help the learners feel as though they’re really engaging and there are really good people there.

Visual cues are key to the experience of learning. While I have to apply video to educational experience in order to make learning interactive, I also use other creative techniques to help people’s imaginations and knowledge fill their heads. Rather than go by whiteboards with hard edges, I take cues from unexpected places. I ask the students to draw pictures or collage ideas with some strange objects I haven’t asked them to use. I use expressive writing and develop more analogies to push the kids to think. I like to draw funny faces on the whiteboards and mix news items with fun quiz questions. Creating visual cues in a real-time teaching environment is key to engaging students. That’s why the teaching in our classes is always controlled, structured and entertaining.

We have mastered technology, but often times people don’t know the best of it or even how to use it. When we talk about STEM technology, for example, people often think of lab science and chemistry. But everything is much more involved. Understanding how to manage power in a system is essential in construction, although it may sound much simpler. Once you understand that, you can use the same approach with most STEM topics. The more people understand it, the more they use it. Helping people develop their skills across all curricula is a strong benefit of online education.

Whether you’re a software developer, an instructor, a learner or a scholar, technology is important for your success. Technology can help you be as innovative and create as entertaining a learning experience as possible. A lot of the best learning can be done online, from courses on machine learning to online courses on math for English. To me, it’s best when the learning is dynamic, engaging and fun.

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