Are you considering an online learning program for your class?
Numbers speak a lot. As per CDE (2016), nearly 62% of districts have a digital content and curriculum strategy, while other 33% have confirmed that they have one under way. It is just a matter of time that you too would be using online learning in your classroom.
Does online learning really work?
Although we all are optimistic about its potential, a few studies suggest otherwise. As per a CCRC report (2011), students who opt for online courses are more likely to withdraw from them. Or to say, students failed to achieve desired levels of success with online learning.
Further analysis reveals three key factors responsible for student failure with online learning
Student preparedness for studying online
The format of online learning programs, and
Student preparedness for studying online
The main reason for student failure was lack of self-direction. In traditional classrooms, students learn under the guidance of the teacher; however, in an online environment, they are on their own. Unfortunately, most students fail to do that.
The format of online learning programs
Online learning programs are designed to give students freedom of movement. The format allows students to select the time and place for learning. It also allows them to select the standards they study. This reduces their peer-to-peer interactions, which in turn reduces the feedback they receive.
Additionally, online programs are inherently low-structured. This structure allows them to personalize the student experience. However, this format doesn’t suit everyone. Some students need highly structured instruction to achieve lasting success.
Another problem is student’s Internet literacy and efficient computers. Students who do not have a home computer, else, do not have reliable Internet access, are less likely to succeed with an online program.
Traditional classroom or online learning program?
Does this mean, we should drop online learning programs, and return to traditional classrooms?
Digital learning is the key to the future. There is no pointing in turning around.
The research by CCRC specifically highlights to one major problem. Students’ inability to develop self-directed learning attributes. As per Dillon and Greene (2003)
“The most important goal of all education, including distance education, is to help learners learn how to learn … in a variety of situations and under a variety of conditions, because that is the nature of the learning society in which we live.”
How to ensure student success in a online learning environment?
The key is helping students develop self-directed learning attributes. Students need to learn to take charge of their own learning. We must teach them to self-direct their learning experience. Here we list 7 strategies to help you set up your class to succeed in an online learning environment.
7 Strategies for student success with online learning
Monitor the active learning time
Monitor the amount of time your students spend online, and the quality and quantity of classwork they submit.
Ensure the quality of learning material
It is always best to select online programs that allow students with unlimited access to the learning material. Always, check the quality of access, videos should stream easily; interactive questions should be error free.
Teach time management skills
The flexibility of online programs can easily backfire. Students instead of learning every day may end up not learning at all. Teach your students to develop a strict learning discipline. Suggest them to pre-plan their study routine.
Propel their personal drive to study
The skill of self-directed learning is necessary. The offer of ‘study at your own pace and convenience’, also means an offer of not studying at all. Students need a strong learning drive to overcome their bad habits and study regularly.
Computer and Internet literacy skills
Basic computer skills are a must. Students need to learn skills like, using a word processor, sending emails, navigating the Internet, working with manipulates, and so on.
Ensure that students are willing to seek help
You need to ensure that your students do not feel isolated. Most importantly, ensure that students do not hesitate to ask for help.
Ensure timely feedback
Whether in the class or outside of it, students should receive clear feedback. Well-timed and targeted feedback is a must for the success of an online program.
As I wrote earlier, self-directed learning is the key to the success of an online learning program. Unless you teach your students to take charge of their own learning, the same could become a frustrating affair.
Metacognition is another skill that you need to teach. Most of the time, your students would be gauging their own learning; they must learn to analyze how they learn, why they learn, and how it affects their thinking.