Each week we meet via Twitter for #IOLchat to discuss current issues related to online learning. Participants have included students, instructors, eLearning companies, schools, publishers, and instructional designers.
Preparing students for online learning may also be preparing them for their future roles in the workforce. As work in many career fields becomes more integrated with and reliant upon the use of various technologies, students who are successful in online learning environments may also be successful employees. This week we discussed the rewards and demands of working and learning via technology. Here's a summary of our chat:
What skill sets are learners developing as they work to successfully complete online courses and programs?
- Time management: judging amount of time required for a given task, blocking time in advance to complete assigned work, planning and scheduling multiple priorities.
- Communication: netiquette and professional approach; writing skills; choosing appropriate mode/method of correspondence; clarity (efficiency and completeness) as in "I've done x, y, and z. Can you help?"
- Strong work ethic: self-discipline, initiative, being proactive to ask questions and gather resources.
- Technology: communicating with distant colleagues, troubleshooting problems, increasing comfort level with various devices and applications.
- Continuous learning: adjusting and adapting as technologies and requirements of online courses change, and also in the workplace.
How can students leverage their online learning skills in current or future employment situations?
- Important to note that students need to recognize (metacognitively or reflexively) that they are building these skills while learning online, in order to apply them in other situations.
- Marketing themselves as successful "online [knowledge] workers." Particularly useful when applying for telecommuting or other remote/virtual employment opportunities.
- Engaging in online learning may help students prepare for technology skills required on-the-job, through increased exposure and practice with communication tools, etc.
- Take the initiative to tell potential employers about the skills developed or reinforced through the experience of online learning. Don't rely on them to ask.
- Present your skills as people skills: "interacting with PEOPLE through computers" not just interacting with computers.
What kinds of online learning experiences can students expect to encounter in the workplace?
- Training to prepare them for their specific job assignments and for professional development.
- Delivery via systems that are the same as or similar to those found in online courses, such as content management systems, social media/networking, and teleconferencing tools.
- Potentially more passive learning opportunities, like webinars, slide presentations, and tutorials; but growing use of social media and networking through internal personal learning networks.
What is your advice for employers recruiting and reviewing applications from online learners?
- Get to know and understand the characteristics of successful online students. "You want these folks!"
- Resist automatic association of "online" with negative bias and stigma. Look closer at the degree programs, the schools, accreditation, graduation requirements, etc.
- Get a better idea of an applicant's technology and communication skills with virtual interviews and career fairs.
Follow us @OC_org and plan to attend our next chat! We meet on Wednesdays from 12pm-1pm ET and look forward to hearing your perspective.
This week's read-aheads:
What are 21st-Century Skills? from the ATC21S Project at the University of Melbourne
This week's chat stream: