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Online Learning Essay

3163 words - 13 pages


Online learning has grown rapidly in the past few years in colleges requiring instructors to learn effective ways to build online communities of learners. There are barriers to avoid, as well as key components to include, when creating online learning environments. There are many technology options ...view middle of the document...

Students will not be successful in a constructivist learning environment if they are unable to set goals, develop a plan of action, and complete necessary steps to solve the problem. Problems should be complex with the possibility of multiple solutions. Students need opportunities to build deeper understandings when taking an online course. Learners build deeper understandings of the subject while working through a problem.
Dede (2008) discusses the changing epistemology of online interactions with the advent of Web 2.0 tools. These tools have changed learning from one right answer, which traditionally comes from experts via textbooks, to the creations by and interactions of learners using Web 2.0 tools like Wikipedias. This new media requires teaching learners how to be smart consumers who, for example, can discern whether the information is from a credible or non-credible resource. This shift of learning from traditional materials to using Web 2.0 tools should cause teachers to rethink how they deliver content, and to seek ways to incorporate the tools students use for recreation to further their interest and education. In a perfect world, educators would be able to take the best from traditional and online formats to create a superior system for building understanding and knowledge (Dede, 2008).
        According to Dr. Ruth Brown (2001) there are three stages to building community in online courses. First, students become acquainted. Second, students begin, through longer interactions, to discover similarities and differences between themselves and their classmates and begin to interact with the course content.  In the third stage, students begin supporting one another and taking their friendship outside the course requirements. Some even begin to plan the courses they will take together in future semesters. Students new to online classes will need more support from the instructor than veteran students. Beginning students are happiest with short assignment and timelines. They also prefer frequent feedback from their professor. Veteran online students do not need as much hand-holding by their professor and quickly make connections with past classmates. Their conversations show connections from shared past points of view and from courses they have taken together (Brown, 2001).
  The effectiveness of the learning community can be seen when all members share ideas and reflect on the process together. Online communities work best when members enter into relationships by getting to know each other, by participating in online discussions about the learning material, and by supporting one another’s learning and understanding (Silvers, P., O’Connell, J., & Fewell, M.,2007). Silvers, O’Connell, and Fewell (2007) identified several strategies for building community. Some of the strategies are journaling, responding to discussions, emailing, creating digital presentations, and collaborating. The above formats, along with blogs and Wikipedias,...

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