For the past week, I have been without my laptop and it has been harder than I thought. I did most of the readings at the very start of the Module before I didn’t have it, and I was able to read some of the articles and watch the video presentations through my smart phone. I tried to attempt composing discussion posts and blog posts through my phone, but it was almost impossible for me. Not only is trying to write whole paragraphs with my thumbs next to impossible, I had the hardest time staying focused and not being distracted while on my phone!
This experience has made me think about how technology issues can truly impact the learning abilities in an online course. Since my course is designed for high school students, the frustration level of teenagers can become even higher or escalate even faster due to the lack of experience of dealing with this kind of responsibility. One of the disadvantages of online courses is the unreliability of technology and internet connection (Hurt, 2008). I know I felt lucky that this course has two week long Modules so not having access to complete my work for a week didn’t impact my ability to work too much but it could be worse if it was shorter!
This experience then made me think about some of the other disadvantages online courses could have on students abilities to not only complete work, but learn as well. One of the other disadvantages mentioned in the previous article was “differences in individual learning styles affect an on-line student’s chances of success” (Hurt, 2008). Although this can definitely be true in most cases, I do feel that if learner-centered classes are developed, this does not have to be an issue.
After watching and reading the required tasks, one thing I found that supports what it means to really have an online course be “learner-centered” is having the students be aware of the importance of being apart of the learning and class in general. “Strong interdependence with others and the feeling of being a member of a stable group and the idea that available technologies can be used to expand and support a sense of community” (West et al, 2012). I think this goes beyond just having the students feel that they are a part of the online community, but more towards the feeling that they can have some of the control of what is being learned within this community; truly making them engaged in the process.
There are multiple ways for students to feel they are the center of the learning within an online class. One way is through Alexandra Pickett Reflects on Social Presence and Affective Expression where she suggests having multiple ways to have students’ express themselves and gives the students choice. Students can have the control of how the deliver information and their understanding back to the teacher and class. One suggestion of doing this was through the use of VoiceThread. Students can have the choice and power of choice which will enhance their feeling of being in control of their learning. Another way to empower learners within the online community is to have them look at their own involvement in the course. “The best form of evaluation, however, is self-evaluation” (Scorza, 2005). Having students reflect and notice themselves of their involvement in an online course puts the focus on them as well. This can help students be aware of how much their participation and voice in the online community can affect the learning process.
Hurt, Joyce. “The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Teaching And Learning On-Line.” Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin 74.4 (2008): 5-11. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 July 2014.
Pickett, Alexandra. “Alexandra Pickett Reflects on Social Presence and Affective Expression.” YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 25 June 2014.
Scorza, Jason A.“Do Online Students Dream of Electric Teacher.” JALN 9.2 (2005): 45-52. Web 19 June 2014.
West, Elizabeth, Phyllis Jones, and Sarah Semon. “Promoting Community for Online Learners in Special Education.” Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education 28.3 (2012): 108-16. Web. June 19 2014.