Three Ways to Improve the Online Learning Experience
Think of connectedness less as a student-instructor two-way dialog and more as an open network that not only increases student engagement, but provides avenues of collaboration where students learn from each other (St. Germain, 2011). Use features
inside the Learning Management System (LMS), like discussion boards and wikis, where students can openly share opinions and viewpoints about course topics and build on each others’ knowledge. Be brave enough to venture outside the LMS–consider using social media sites, like Twitter, which provide open platforms for sharing and communication among students and with experts in the field (this is especially helpful for adult learners interested in developing personal learning networks).2. Take advantage of web resources. This includes not only web tools that promote collaboration, but also resources that provide a variety of perspectives on course topics, like websites, journal articles, and YouTube videos. By doing so, instructors create robust, rich learning environments that offer students more depth than textbook readings might do on their own. As noted in St. Germain (2011),
…the ‘online’ in online course does not mean uploading Word documents into a course template…Expand your view of how computer applications and Web resources can be used to increase the relevance, power, and memorability of the educational experiences you create.Be creative when looking for web tools and resources, and remember that the time spent finding the right ones is worth the investment—chances are that students want more technology weaved throughout the course. 3. Embrace your role as a facilitator of learning. Instead of all eyes focused on the instructor as in a traditional classroom setting, students now look to the vast amount of content provided by the information-rich internet. (St. Germain, 2011). Rather than insisting on being the “sage of the stage,” facilitate ways for students to reference the internet effectively throughout your course, and curate content for them so they are guided to the appropriate information (St. Germain, 2011). Doing so also helps bridge the gap between the course content and the real world (St. Germain, 2011). The more an instructor embraces their role as a facilitator of learning, the more naturally they will foster collaborative opportunities for students to learn from each other and use web resources and tools throughout the course to create rich learning environments.
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