What Works: Student Perceptions Of Effective Elements In Online Learning

What works has to be measured, and it is rare that a view or perception gets updated. Young people often lack the ability to work objectively from a structured and developed perspective.

What Works: Student Perceptions Of Effective Elements In Online Learning

What Works: Student Perceptions Of Effective Elements In Online Learning

It can be very difficult for today’s students to imagine a career in the kind of subject matter they study in high school or college because so much of the media they encounter is focused on entertainment. In fact, the number of short-form and snippets designed to hit the audience “hard” and not fill in other information is so immense that even on school tours, many students say they see only snippets. This is frustrating to many educators and drives a lot of frustration among students because they feel limited, unable to understand fully what an instructor is trying to get across.

On the other hand, because many students have experience working with computers in their home lives, they can see how online learning can be effective. Can you see how?

Video

During the first part of this study, I interviewed high school students in the Tri-Cities, Washington area about what they liked and disliked about online learning. For example, two of the students said they were attracted to online learning because it can be interactive and helps them practice their lessons. Another student commented on how it helped her feel that she was at the center of her learning because it made her an integral part of the research process. I then surveyed many of them on what those online learning elements were they liked and disliked and asked them what each had meant to them.

Most of the students said that the first feature they noticed was the videos, which they found stimulating and entertaining, with helpful instruction. Moreover, they said they enjoyed the process of watching videos because the instructor explained very clearly the concepts covered. One student said that the videos provided valuable information about the course and he enjoyed seeing what other students had learned. They all considered the videos not only engaging but powerful because they allowed students to become very involved in the learning process. Some of them noticed that instructors had the videos down pat because it was clear how the content was organized in each video.

It is also well understood that video connects students with the instructor. A student found the videos to be the most helpful part of the course, with the instructor using interactive videos to help students get to know the material better. Thus, many students perceived the instructor as the main reason for watching the videos.

So, how do we get students to learn in this kind of online setting, and how do we integrate education into what they’re interested in doing in their homes? The videos were just one part of the overall learning experience, which consisted of visits to the campus, use of hands-on tools, discussion groups, and individual study projects. I was inspired by what happened to one young student as she prepared for her oral examination. Once she was ready to face the exam, the only course subject which she hadn’t tried was peace studies.

Instead of studying the question twice and taking that time to mull over what the answers would be, she viewed the teacher’s video twice and then took a few practice exams so she could practice and then made a little bit of progress by studying for the rest of the exam. She took her time, but the end result was a good one, and she learned enough to pass, without much effort. That, I thought, was worth praising.

I hope you’ll follow the links at the end of this blog to download my individual breakdowns on how you should structure online learning.

Part II: How To Help Students Learn

About the Author: In December 2015, Richard Rupp was appointed as dean of the School of Education at the University of Washington. He came to Washington state from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he was dean of the Mary Lou Fulton School of Education. Richard has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from Tulane University and a B.S. in Science Education from the University of Iowa. Richard is also past president of the Science Educators Association, president of the Midwestern Association of Science Educators, and past president of the American Association of Science Teachers. He has served on the National Council of State Boards of Education and as a member of the council’s education research committee. You can learn more about him on his MySpace page, by emailing him at [email protected], or calling (206) 387-8820.

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