Last year I received my M.Ed. in Teaching & Learning / Instructional Technology and Online Instruction. My position now allows me to work with instructors as they develop hybrid courses. I decided to share my thoughts with you regarding my own online education.
I learn with the online format.
I taught in a traditional classroom for over 25 years and I love classroom teaching. But the fact is, online learning is for a certain set of learners – and it may not be for everyone. I happen to be a self-starter, organized, and I love learning new things. I have strong time-management skills, am motivated, and am comfortable with technical communication. These skills are important for online learners. I thrive in the online classroom.
Yet, it wasn’t just the fact that I enjoy learning. Other factors were in place which helped me be successful in my program of study:
- My courses provided clear guidelines. There was a certain format to the online program, and the syllabus, assignments, and details were consistent. In each course, I knew where to go for examples, discussion posts, lectures, and even questions.
- The discussion assignments were thought-provoking. The instructors asked relevant, real-world questions which allowed me to relate the material of study to my own work. It was meaningful.
- I was asked to meet with peers. I was surprised when I first signed up with the online program that I was asked to meet synchronously with my peers and professors. I thought, “Hey. Can’t I just do this on my own time? Why do I need to meet with everyone?” But I grew to enjoy this time. In almost every class I met at some point with my peers and instructor face-to-face in real-time via Skype or Hangout. This helped form relationships.
- I was asked to consistently collaborate with peers. Again, in almost every course, there was an element of peer-to-peer collaboration. Whether it was research a project or new technology, we met both synchronously and asynchronously. This continued to form relationships.
- I was challenged. I enjoy a good challenge. My reading materials, assignments, research papers – they were difficult. I enjoy a good challenge and the sense of accomplishment at the end of a task well-done.
- My instructors were real. They sent notes of encouragement and shared their own lives. To this day, a few of them stay connected via Google + and still invite me to join their class hangout sessions!
- My courses provided choice. I cannot state this of all my classes, but many of my courses provided a choice for assignments. In fact, one course offered the entire course of study as a choice. This was a bit “new” to me – and very open ended, but I was able to create an entire faculty training manual for BYOD for the school where I was employed. It was useful, relevant, and I enjoyed the research.
- My assessments and feedback were meaningful and timely. My instructors provided thoughtful feedback. It amazed me how my instructors would provide HUGE amounts of quality feedback on my papers. They not only read them, they reflected with me and provided discourse. They encourage thought. When there were doubts, they asked questions. They provided useful links for further research. My learning process grew through my assessment and feedback.
Here is an infographic I made to share these ideas:
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