How I See Online Learning

Posted by Wilma De Villiers

It is surprising how new online/ e-learning is but it has been increasing over the years. The word ‘online’ brings to mind technology. One definition described online learning as “a way of studying for an internationally recognised qualification without needing to attend classes on campus” and it refers to postgraduate qualifications. My personal opinion is that it is any course (full qualification or a short course) that can be completed online.
You can study whenever and wherever it suits you: it is flexible but needs to be completed in a prescribed time frame. Although the emphasis is on individual self-learning it is my opinion that collaborative learning (interaction with peers on-line) and the instructor also play very important roles. If you cannot study independently this is not a suitable option. For somebody like myself that works long hours and belief in the importance of family time this is a perfect alternative solution to attending a university or college.
It is more challenging to develop an effective on-line course than a course that is offered classroom-based. The student cannot ask a question and expect an immediate answer. The instructions and tools should be developed in such a way that it addresses students’ different learning styles.

By Wilma De Villiers

June 7, 2015

10 responses on "How I See Online Learning"

  1. @wilma Your definition is spot on. I also work long hours and I cannot imagine when next I will have time to attend a fully traditional classroom course. To help me further understand your point on learning styles, do you have any example of a learning style that is address in class and not online?

  2. @wilma I enjoyed reading this and would like you to shed more light on the roles that instructor should play in the online environment. @admin I think the classroom allows for deeper engagement with the learners.

    • The role of the on-line instructor cannot be discussed in a paragraph or two. Some of the most important roles of an on-line instructor for me:
      The technology should be used in such a way that it is easy for students to understand, instructions should be clear, the instructor should keep discussions on track, challenge & guide students by asking question, create an encouraging, flexible learning environment, respect responses by students and be responsive.

  3. Interesting Piece of reading Wilma, honestly I believe that the online courses came to help mostly the working class other than the full time students. From your research I have picked up that you highlighted the issue of questions asked in the online course that cannot receive immediate attention in contrast with cultural classroom where the educator/lecture could attend to problems raised during the session. I am looking forward to learn more from this

  4. The is a nice simple explanation. I would also like you to expand on the learning styles statement..

  5. Wilma you rightly highlight that online is perhaps better suited for those with families and who cannot or are unable to attend classes physically. Moreover I agree with you very much that this form of learning is probably not ideal for first degree or first qualification students who are embarking on higher education for the first time.

  6. In the traditional classroom it is easier to observe students’ learning styles after a while (not talking about classrooms where there are 100 students in the group). There are students that learn best by watching and listening (aural) and others by doing and moving (hands on environment – kinestathic). The question is, how can all the different learning styles be addressed in on-line learning?

    Thanks for challenging met to think a bit more about my statement regarding learning styles. This is an advantage of on-line learning – people might feel more free to ask questions, to challenge their peers.

    We started this course, how are our learning styles being addressed? It is important to consider learning styles of the
    group that is doing the on-line course. This is a short course and not practical to first determine all the learning styles but for full qualifications this should be done. Materials need to be presented in the students’ preferred way, considering their unique way of learning. Learning styles have implications for the educational processed.

    Social learning is one of my strong learning styles and that is what is challenging for me with on-line learning. The online social learning is not enough for me. That is why when I did an online masters I had my husband to interact with regarding the contents of the course and made friends with one of the group. We sometimes met to discuss some of the matter.

    • Thank you @wilma for explaining very well on the concept of learning styles. I must say I admire you for taking on an online Masters. It must have required a lot of discipline.

      • Fredercik, it took a lot of discipline and my late husband motivating me! The admiration of my children to see their mother (old in their eyes!) doing a masters was priceless!

        What also really helped me was the friend that I made and we sometimes met to discuss certain issues or just to encourage each other. That is why I belief strongly in personal social interaction while you are studying.

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