Friday, March 01, 2013

Creating Interest in Online learning

A recent article in the NY Times on online education expressed concerns over the idea of education going  online. The article went on to suggest that low performing students actually found it harder to perform when  classes went online (with facts based on a 5 year study over a range of 50,000 students). These students  reportedly lacked confidence in the absence of their teachers and hence were struggling to put up a fight. 

The first thought that came to my mind when I read that was isn't it always hard before it becomes easy, no matter what it might be? But then the same piece also stated on a positive note that students in hybrid classes - those that blended online instruction with a face-to-face component — performed as well academically as those in traditional classes. As a fan of online learning I must admit I was relieved!

So is it truly the future?

I would say yes it is. But online education is something that is likely to evolve under the shadow of conventional learning before it can stand up on its own. After all it doesn't always mean that someone who knows how to use a computer would necessarily love the idea of online education automatically. Students will have to get accustomed to the process of learning online content.

It should not be much of a problem since they spend a majority of their time online these days. (But when you ask them to do something useful like learning a lesson online, they might push back and not take to it so easily! “Ok, so you want to start using my iPad to take lessons and do homework?”) On the other hand, it might take some effort convincing parents, most of whom are naturally inclined to assume that their kids are “goofing off” when they  are in front of their computers or using their handheld gadgets. They will have to come to terms with the fact  that the future of learning  is going to involve a significant amount of online learning.  Likewise, Instructors/ teachers have to understand that online learning could eventually minimize their own workload though in the short term it might appear to be overwhelming. So its best if the adapt to and acknowledge the new  system with an open mind.