Online learners don’t always know how to learn, especially… online? We may have been taught at schools with didactic lectures and group projects, however, when online, it seems the average learner is a few beats behind.
I say this because that understanding was evidenced this year in a marked difference between our learners pre-Summer holidays and post.
Before the break the class had a module which was totally designed around blogging, sharing and group / class work to construct their own learning. There was no core text, just articles, videos and some journal chapters. They were set topics to un-earth, share, solve and critique.
Since that module I’ve seen a marked increase in sharing in their new module after the Summer break.
In one particular programme, the quantity of general forum posts have increased (ie, students sharing interesting campaigns and thoughts) – the number of crowd-sourced answers to University policy has increased too (ie, rules on word counts and cover sheets).
So should students be taught how to learn online before… learning online? Is online learning, and socio-constructivism, a foreign concept still? Futurelearn have already made encountered the need, and made a decision for their MOOC offering, which comes in the form of a guide for learners on how to learn in a MOOC format. See their crowd-sourced article. Here at Keypath we run an induction module with some solid hours of work to help you understand what it’s like learning online and how to succeed.
Recently I’ve been thinking further on a post-graduate level upgrade to the induction. Dedicating 1 unit to the new student cohort having to discover, un-cover and solve a problem together. Like, “what is the world’s largest firm?” – seemingly easy at first, however defining “large” becomes the topic of debate, are we talking profits, staff, sales? The question would allow the students to share and solve together. And in the process, learn how to learn online.
We could also create another lighter option, where we ask them to source articles related to a modern theory, maybe something about, “the effect of social media on marketing”. Whilst they are sharing, we take the activity 1 step further up Blooms and ask then to critique one other students theory or article, does it hold up? Why? What evidence do you have?
There’s also a lot to be said for just being direct about how a student can succeed in their day to day activities to help support learning. In every activity you should include, learning instruction to succeed, ie, “Write a post on XYZ, respond to two other classmates”, “Respond to your fellow classmates and generate a discussion”, “apply the model as many times as you need to understand it’s strengths and weaknesses, share with your class mates lots in discussion to understand it further” or “work together and discuss with your fellow students to critque and fully understand the model”.