Persevering at Online Learning

Objective

“Persevering at online learning is also affected by computer and information literacy, time management…online communication skills…self-esteem…feelings of belongingness in the online program and the ability to develop interpersonal skills with peers”



Reflective

I chose this quote because I have taken many professional development and extension certificate programs online. I have learned from these experiences is that in order to have feelings of belongingness in an online program, it is essential to participate actively. When first starting this course, I was surprised by the “required s Skype call” with my learning partner task. Upon reflecting on it afterwards, I realized that it had given me a sense of connection that I had not felt in other courses I had previously taken. One of the struggles people have with online courses is that they do not actively participate and the course happens around them until it ends. This can be mitigated by giving learners a reason to go online.

Also, to achieve success, time management must be a priority. I am clearly motivated by time pressure and deadlines, as I have waited almost the full length of the course to hand in assignments. In doing so, I have not allowed myself the opportunity to benefit from feedback from my classmates or to share ideas with them. In my future teaching I will incorporate mini-deadlines (for example, use the process approach to writing where drafts must be submitted) in order to build a sense of rapport with the learners through feedback. Setting these deadlines is one thing, having students follow them is another. Even if the element of collaboration is not possible, I hope to facilitate a sense of ‘belongingness’ through regular commentary and response to learner output.

Undeniably, cellphone use in the classroom poses new challenges for instructors, which can be seen by many as either a learning tool to be exploited, or a classroom management nightmare. However, it is a misconception to assume that access to technology equals computer and information literacy. When blending internet research, the use of websites, or online learning into classrooms, instructors must also teach language learners how to navigate the abundance of information available on the internet. This can be done by teaching research skills, like note-taking, citation, identifying main ideas of a text, etc.


Interpretive

Time management is a soft skill that is not often explicitly taught. However, as the above quote states, it is essential in order to persevere in any course, particularly in online courses, where assignment completion is self-directed. Time management can be focused on explicitly in a course by having learners begin each course with a self-assessment of their own strategies and perceptions of time savers and time wasters. In addition, learners can keep time/work logs to both keep them on track, like the schedule/checklist that was provided for us on the first day of this program. Instructors can make this skill relevant for learners by connecting what is being learned in class; for example, managing assignment progress and workload, with its use outside the language classroom. In any workplace or in any higher education setting, the ability to meet deadlines, manage time, be organized, plan ahead and prioritize tasks is important.


Decisional

While the reasons for taking online classes are many (flexibility, scheduling, location, cost etc.), online communication differs greatly from face-to-face communication. There is no room for elements of non-verbal and vocal communication such as tone, pitch, speed, and body language. In order to foster a sense of belongingness and strong interpersonal communication skills, language teachers must teach the etiquette of email/social media communication, such as being cautious about the use of slang, and to use correct grammar, mechanics and register. This will enable learners to persevere in English language online learning environments.

Another way of ensuring student success in online environments is to bring is resources and helpful teaching tools. The Five-step Strategy article from Online Learning Insights is one example of an approachable tool for students to read, but also contains tips for instructors. Morrison highlights that not all students have the capacity to be self-directed, and need to learn how to develop their self-direction skills (2012).

Bibliography

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult Learning Linking Theory and Practice. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Morrison, D. (2012, September 28). Five-step Strategy for Student Success with Online Learning. Retrieved from Online Learning Insights.

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