“…. the challenge is to provide access to higher learning, determining what the learner brings to the environment, and what they need in terms of support…Therefore, we must ask questions about the learner’s readiness for online learning, access to and familiarity with the technology required, proficiency in the language of instruction, individual learning style, and educational goals, as well as about how aspects of the individual’s culture can affect learning. These are some of the things that we need to understand about the learners; they are also things that the learners need to know about themselves in order to benefit from the learning experience.”
Judith Hughes’ chapter on online learning captured the necessary exchange of information that needs to happen between the learner, institution, instructor, and advisor – theses individuals all make up a community of learning. Online learning and support services work well if those critical people are constantly communicating with one another. It’s not enough for an advisor to know a student’s learning style and recommend strategies for success, but students need to have a good sense of self-awareness and maturity in order to diagnose learning needs and be in control of the learning process. I was reminded about andragogy principles when reading this chapter. My module is targeting 18/19 year old college freshmen. I would argue that most 18 year olds struggle to diagnose their learning needs. I think part of the issue is the difference between teaching in high school compared to college (which is related to the SRL article last week). Suddenly college freshmen find themselves in an environment where professors often won’t send out study guides, reminders, provide written/verbal feedback, etc. I think creating community is essential and online learning (if done right) is poised to provide critical support, resources, and tools to help individuals learn more about themselves and the institution overall.
In my module, I want to address learner readiness/needs through an online post & pre test. Hughes notes that “This type of online resource assists potential learners to determine if they have the necessary hardware and networking capabilities, and should help them to explore whether this learning environment is comfortable.” The results are discussed only between the instructor and student. However, students will have the opportunity to engage with one another in other lessons. I want students to present helpful information and suggestions as they learn new skills that will assist with hybrid/online learning. I plan to pair my students into blog buddies of 3 or 4. I’ll also facilitate student access by encouraging them to exchange their cell phone numbers & emails at the beginning – this way if they want to have a synchronous, real time discussion about an assignment, they can. The most important part of my module will be guiding them through self-regulated learning principles necessary for college success. The learning community – myself, students, tech assistance, campus resources – all serve to support the student through the self-discovery process. The module is an individualized learning activity with a community of support.
The feeling of community as it relates to this course is important to me – mainly the instructor feedback to be honest. I blogged about the importance of teacher presence earlier in the semester, and I think the instructors have done an excellent job in providing timely feedback about our assignments and learning processes. I wish I had more time to read and respond to each blog post from my peers, but I don’t. I have actually surprised myself by enjoying the reading of my classmates tweets. Here is where I think a short sentence about a learning experience is faster for me to read, absorb, and comment versus a blog response. I never thought I’d enjoy reading tweets, so I appreciate that part about this class! It’s stretched me in good ways.