Think about your learning journey so far in this subject. What have you learned? Has the journey been exciting? Is it harder to excite/engage students in learning when working wholly online?
My learning in this subject has, like all learning, been up and down. At times I am engaged with the subject matter, inspired and motivated. At other times I am bogged down in all the reading, all the time in front of the screen.
Online learning offers me the luxury of flexible learning. I can fit study in around my work and family commitments. I can study anywhere, anytime. Or so I thought ….
What I have found is that it is more difficult than I expected.
I am often trying to find time to complete the work, complete the readings. I am often distracted and find it hard to focus.
I have a million browser tabs, and documents open and if the laptop crashes or I close something accidently, or if I get caught up in life and try to return to it a day later I lose my place, lose the flow.
My great idea of studying once my children are in bed was a fine plan but harder to execute, at the end of the day I am tired and find retaining information from reading on the screen impossible, or after a day of working on a screen I cannot possibly return to it in the evening without getting a headache and glazed eyes.
So apart from a post of complaints what have I learnt?
I have learnt that technology offers many helpful solutions to study but that it is not the most engaging to learn. That a face to face conversation can spark thoughts, reflections and ideas in a way that a forum cannot. That collaborative relationships are hard to establish via chat groups / forums etc.
A teacher can inspire, motivate and reassure in person in a way that cannot through webinars or emails. J.Earp reinforces this belief in Teacher Pocast – “Things like, I guess, wisdom and experience and being able to link concepts together, ask probing questions that encourage students to think at a deeper level, giving quality feedback“
However, with balance technology can assist with learning. Flipped learning in which students take responsibility for their learning, to learn at their own pace, to deepen their knowledge and understanding through digital resources (Earp. J, 2016) and then return to class to share their learning, apply what they know and engage in discussions and follow up activities deepening their connection to the concepts can work in a positive way.
Is it harder to excite/engage students in learning when working wholly online? I think online learning can be exciting: using webinars, videos, podcasts, blogs etc opens up a wide range of stimulus for varying learning styles and that there is something online for everyone. Students are mostly very connected to the digital world – so harnessing this in a way that can assist their learning makes sense. However this needs to be deeply connected to real life connections.
I am excited to explore ways I can do this more in my own classroom and as a TL find ways to provide this opportunity to teachers.
Earp, J. (2014). Teaching methods Episode 2: Flipped learning with Andrew Douch. Teacher. [Podcast].