I ♥ Online Learning

Having recently completed my first asynchronous e-learning credit course, I can honestly say, it’s a great way to learn. Here are my top ten reasons why:

  1. It allows me to go off on tangents. I make connections in class that I never have time to in face to face environments, because I am not directing the discussion.

2. I can work when I feet freshest, like Saturday morning. Though I do some work on weeknights, my best thinking happens on Saturday morning. That’s when I try to do most of my writing.

3. I can hear people’s ideas more than once. I revisit people’s comments over and over, which moves my thinking forward.

4. Help is only a click away. If I need technical support or questions about the ideas we study, I have easy access through online journals, websites, even You Tube.

5. Because I have time to think about what I want to say, I have the courage to speak up.

6. Everyone’s voices are heard equally. Have you ever been in a class where a couple of people monopolize the discussion? No worry about that here!

7. I am learning about technology along with ideas.

8. I can work in my pyjamas, with coffee in hand. Enough said.

9. All my tools are in one easily accessible location. Being able to have multiple articles, ideas, pieces of writing, and Blackboard open all in the same location allow me to work anywhere, anytime.

10. My learning is deep and rich. Having think time allows for deep connections.

Of course, thoughtful design of the course is critical to online learning success. As Murphy, Rodríguez-Manzanares and Barbour state, “. . . .it is not the media but the pedagogy that determines the interaction.”

Murphy, E., Rodríguez-Manzanares, M., & Barbour, M. (2011). Asynchronous and synchronous online teaching: perspectives of Canadian high school distance education teachers. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 42(4), 583-591.

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About sandralbecker

An educator who is passionate about the creation of a school Learning Commons, which supports inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.
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4 Responses to I ♥ Online Learning

  1. Good morning! Number eight is particularly apropos at the moment (substitute orange juice for the coffee). Number ten (“Having time to think allows for deep connections.”) is so true, regardless of the learning environment. Time to think. Providing time to think is a challenge in face-to-face environments. Asynchronous environments seem to lend themselves naturally to comprehending more complex topics without time constraints (Ge, 2012).

    According to Ge (2012), there is merit for a blended approach. “In cyber synchronous classes, students will have a chance to interact directly with the teacher and with their peers and the teacher can also assign a lot of activities for the students to do.” (p.292, Ge, 2012) Although in our current course we debate through written posts, “…topic debates are not so easy to carry out asynchronously. (p.292, Ge, 2012) This statement is debatable. As you say in number five, having time to sort out your thoughts is important for those who benefit from time to ponder and organize their thoughts. Alternately, the writing itself can be a challenge for some students. Expressing their thinking verbally may be a more effective method for them.

    Reference

    Ge, Z.-G. (2012). Cyber asynchronous versus blended cyber approach in distance english learning. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 15(2), 286-297.

  2. caroleware says:

    Sandra,
    Love your post! I also think that asynchronous learning is a good way to learn for me right now in my life. Of course, if I had the time, I would most likely choose more face to face courses over fully online courses.

    #2. I also love that I can get up at 5 am, go sit at the table with some coffee and work during the only quiet time in my house – Im not worried about who has to go to what sport or club, or making dinner, just in a few hours that everyone needs to get out of bed.

    #6. I have been in those classes! I have a few of those students in my class currently. I like being able to hear those quiet thinkers in my class, so I agree that think time and ability to hear everyone’s thoughts is so important.

    #9. I agree here as well, I often spend the hour and half each Thursday night while I am waiting for my daughter who is at soccer practice reading articles, creating blog posts, etc.. all on my ipad! So much nicer then hauling around all of those textbooks and binders of notes I used to need during my undergrad!

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!
    Carole

  3. ttallerico says:

    Sandra,

    You point out many positive aspects to asynchronous learning and it obvious that you really enjoy this type of learning. As I look back over our certificate program so far, I really appreciated our opportunity to have a face-to-face class initially. I have a picture in my head for all of you who started in July, a sense of who you are (shallow I realize but something to hang my hat on nonetheless) and the expertise that you all bring into my learning. I am finding the asynchronous environment less enjoyable but at least feel connected to all of you to some degree which helps me take risks when I am not that comfortable doing so. Do you think that your opportunity to develop a relationship with us has helped you be successful in these later mostly asynchronous classes or are they just more to your learning style?

    Like Debbie I also think “…topic debates are not so easy to carry out asynchronously.” (p.292, Ge, 2012), especially because writing is not a strength for me and each response can take me several hours to write and rewrite. In the end it is in the relationships that I have with you that enables me to post my ideas with some confidence. I do sometimes think that asynchronous learning is more advantageous to certain learning styles and preferences than others. Graff (2003) suggested “educators should design online learning environments that match both expectations of the learner as well as their cognitive style of learning.” (as cited by Rourke and Coleman, 2011) I know from experience as an educator that it is important to stretch students to develop their skills in all areas however I believe it is also important to ensure students have opportunities to work in their dominant skill set as well. By having a balanced approach of synchronous and asynchronous environments within a course allow all students to experience challenges which to grow by and successes from which to flourish.

    Trudi

    References:

    Rourke, A., & Coleman, K. (2010). E-learning in crisis: should not the pedagogy lead the technology? Journal Of Education Research, 4(3), 265-282. Retrieved from:
    http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=66238126&site=ehost-live

    Zi-­Gang, G. (2012). Cyber Asynchronous versus Blended Cyber Approach in Distance English Learning. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 15(2), 286-­297. http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http:/ /search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&d b=afh&AN=76559244&site=ehost-­live

    • Trudi,
      I do agree wholeheartedly with you that having met most of the cohort in July has made a difference, particularly in my ability to take risks in my thinking.
      Writing is a strength for me and something I enjoy doing, but that does not mean it is less time consuming. I too, spend hours on responses, and posts. I think the hours spent carefully constructing these ideas in writing, helps me clarify thinking for myself. So in making my thinking clear for you, I am also making it clear for me. It is kind of like having our students write response journals. In effect, this course has become my response journal, and because I have to write for others, my writing must be thoughtful and well-constructed. If I was writing a response journal only for the instructor or myself, honestly, I don’t think I would take as much care in how I did it. Does that make sense to you?
      Sandra

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