There is no perfect formula for making sure your adults are succeeding in school. Web resources are often used to make sure students are engaged, but they could offer valuable insights for teachers.
Why Is Online Learning Ineffective
Why is online learning ineffective? All-in-one programs, delivered online or through webinars, are the way to go because they include real-time interaction, access to some resources and an outline of the topics covered, plus the two big tools of an instructor—knowledge and confidence.
Why’s that so easy to understand? Anyone could develop any course, but it’s highly unlikely that they will have any attachment to the topic—you can’t pull it up in a flash on your phone to get started with a course. Someone with a lot of real-life experience on the topic will have a leg up because of access to practical resources and contacts on campus. (If you taught for three years or more, maybe there’s a reason this matter has become a priority for your school!)
My concern isn’t that full-size classes are outdated—we teach 100 percent of our students face-to-face—but that it becomes a “one size fits all” model and they (students) don’t benefit from “the team approach.”
If the strategy is to give students a handbook on anything, let them pick up things from different professors and instructors who’ve taught the topic, and let students meet one-on-one with instructors and colleagues to talk about their choice, at some point there has to be balance.
What specifically is the team approach? It begins with identifying what the need is for each course and different ways of addressing it. This could be to hire a registered professional in that particular field, run a networking event for students, or create a series of grants to support and sustain community organizations to support studying the topic.
Goals for online courses
Online classes benefit from full-time, registered faculty leaders to oversee the curriculum, organize events, set deadlines and so on. This supports both the instructor and students, resulting in productive and effective courses, whether it be a full-credit option, continuing education, or summer camp.
For solo courses, however, a collaborative model is needed to help instructors move between topics with their students—and keep them engaged.
Students also need to have a coach who can provide challenges and opportunities, connecting with them on a human level, along with practical resources that address their specific needs. A helping hand is needed at the beginning, middle and end of each class. This makes for a more efficient learning experience, making online courses more interactive, proactive and student-centered.
Students like consistency, and distance learning can be efficient and effective for some courses, but instructors and instructors need to understand the limitations of online classes. Someone with a large academic background but no professional experience would be better off taking the founder role, handing off the day-to-day responsibilities to others and participating in work group discussions on the way.
Online students find online courses a great option because they have a lot of time, but online courses take a while to build depth and challenge, and students have little time to learn as their schedules permit. They need a coach or career coach to provide a helping hand during their course of study.
Online learning is the right choice if you’re providing a great experience, have all the resources and support you need to teach a course and the resources for collaboration and inspiration you’ll need for your own classes—and more. As with any other education, the key to online success is maintaining connection to students and your careers. (See, not all students need a one-hour field trip to the bookstore.)
Bottom line: Not all students have the time or ability to learn by themselves or will be successful in online courses. Help them to make the most of their time with online courses. Your success is their success.
Disclaimer: Jan Howard is the founder and principal of Jennifer Howard Consulting LLC. A licensed chartered financial analyst, she teaches college, university and executive development courses to an international audience.
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