Each week we meet via Twitter for #IOLchat to discuss current issues related to online learning. Participants include students, instructors, eLearning companies, schools, publishers, and instructional designers.
One of the major motivators for enrollment in online education is the convenience factor often described as “any time, any place” learning. Instructors, too, are drawn to the format that allows for travel and other projects while also teaching a course. There are both benefits and challenges associated with online learning and many variables to consider when planning for your next course. What do prospective students and instructors really need to know?
This week our chat format included an open discussion of lessons learned and recommendations for working and studying at a distance. Take a look at the input from our participants:
What are the biggest challenges you and your students face when getting started with online learning?
- Time management can be one of the first challenges faced by new online students.
- It is critical to learn how to better manage time so that you aren’t overwhelmed with the addition of course work in your life.
- Students often rely on “finding time” for course work, but this sets up a difficult situation especially in a paced course.
- Instructors can help students by implementing guidelines/deadlines for large assignments and “smaller chunks of work.”
- Students need comprehensive resources that address effective time and task management practices. Shared links: Asana’s task management tool, important time management tips for online students from Best Online Universities, and Out of Time materials from CAPT.org.
- Reserving time exclusively for studying and course participation is important. “Many students say they multitask and study in front of TV, at kids’ games, etc.” Could this be a problem for some learners?
- The research on multitasking seems to show that it does not promote learning, but this may depend on the skills and context of the individual learner.
- Make the most of new student (or faculty) orientation sessions, online tutorials, and academic strategies courses and workshops.
- “You must be proactive and engaged … you must log on!”
- “Students should take advantage of any additional time with instructors or group study sessions.” Look for instructors’ office hours (online and on campus) and consider starting a study group focusing on an area of need, if one doesn’t already exist.
- Creating valid tests and managing the logistics of uploading the quiz into the course site can be challenging for instructors.
- We need to deter cheating on online exams – proctoring services are a possibility, also test design strategies such as developing large test question banks and setting time limits for taking online tests.
- “Project-based assignments may add value.” Learning objectives may make non-exam assessments a better way for instructors to evaluate student learning.
What is the best advice you have for students starting their first online course this fall (MOOCs included)?
- Schedule more time than you think you will need to work on assignments, complete the reading, etc. If you don’t need the time, you can use it for other tasks, but it’s harder to add time once you’ve started and find out you need more.
- Create a structured, daily to-do list with specific tasks, especially if you are participating in a MOOC. MOOCs often allow learners to craft their own experience with the materials and tools provided, which can be chaotic if you don’t have a plan.
- “Have a well-functioning computer with a stable high-speed Internet connection.”
Thanks to @ProctorU, @TRUOpenLearning, @The_Raheel, @educationonline, @Carmen_Restrepo, @Yousif_Habib, @jagkise, and @jshamsy for participating! Help us to continue the discussion by adding your thoughts via the comments area on this page.
For more from the most recent live session, review the chat feed below. Our past chats can be found on the archives page.
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Image credit: Hermes, Flickr, CC-BY