Why Do Learners Choose Online Learning: The Learners’ Voices Ilgaz Hgulbahar Y

Take a look at the language experts from Learners Choose Online Learning who invite you to be a part of their newest project, the Learners’ Voices curated series.

Why Do Learners Choose Online Learning: The Learners' Voices Ilgaz Hgulbahar Y

Learn more about Learners’ Voices here.

Alina Donagücí (1885-1973), one of the most prominent Romanian poets of the second half of the twentieth century, was born an orphan. As a college student, she wrote passionate passages about the joys of learning and the possibilities it affords the curious, for her acclaimed poems were a mixture of love of language and the stress to create in the medium. She liked her job as a teacher (in a nationalist school of Romanian literature), because she could bring joy to those who listened to her writing, and, then as now, she praised the free and open atmosphere of online learning. By her own estimation, learning in the then new realms of the computer was entirely unique. It was not so much that she could do more with her time, she said, but rather that “I can do it all in the space of a day, like it used to be in my own head.”

For Gloria Patrone, the teacher and leader of the United States online education initiative Learners’ Voices (www.LearnersTeams.org), these contrasts between the physical and virtual worlds are too stark to ignore. How “grey” has online learning become, when people seek instruction from their devices, she asks. As her search for information on Learners’ Voices recently taught her, these virtual worlds sometimes feel as though we have lost the (real) world of learning. It is as if we view today’s offline institutions with more a universalist “I shall do better here” than those that view education as a cause of individual striving.

In October, WIRED asked respondents to explain their choice of online learning. These interviewees represented a range of professional life—from starting a small business to starting a business and dealing with the stress that can accompany it. The graduates of this week’s course and previous Learners’ Voices programs included working professionals as well as passionate educators. Many participants were men, who spoke of the challenges of developing knowledge in this style of learning. Feminists said online courses can provide the education and empowerment traditionally offered to them in campuses, workplaces, and libraries, but often see online learning as a turn away from traditional forms of learning.

A key reason why these participants differ from their male counterparts is how the structure of our educational landscape has changed. Post-secondary institutions have become academic and often technical entities, with high unemployment levels, little opportunity for growth, and long transition periods. Online learning promises to fill the void left by these institutions, but with these changes come an increasing level of ignorance on both sides, the professors and students who fail to understand the credentials and courses provided by this method of learning, and the students who fall into this mis-education. Any model that can rise above this limitations is likely to receive greater attention from both the students and the faculty.

Gloria Patrone started the online Learners’ Voices program with a grant from Horace Mann Foundation, an organization focused on the mental health and well-being of learners, and several others, including the Elliott Family Foundation, the Math Trust, and the Walker Institute. With the help of these and other supporters, this program expanded into colleges, corporations, and schools throughout the U.S. and in two additional locations: Burma and Singapore. So far, Learners’ Voices has been featured in over 6,000 news articles, 90,000 blogs, and over a million YouTube views.

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