Friday, April 16, 2010

Experiences of Online Learning

I have been involved in some form of online learning for quite sometime as learner, trainer, designers, and coordinator. I am currently teaching/facilitating/coordinating the Post Graduate Diploma in E-Learning (PGDEL) offered by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). In the Refresher Programme in Distance Education organized by STRIDE in March-April 2010, I made a short presentation in a panel discussion to share my own experiences to share lessons learned over the years. Some points are as follows:
  1. Learners join online programme with different expectations and abilities. Some do not even have ICT skills, while some others expect the e-learning programme to be classroom type where teacher should teach/instruct. It is important that to make online learning successful, pre-admission counselling and appropriate screening of the learners are essential.
  2. There is no “the model of e-learning”. Different programmes have different needs due to the nature of the learners and the discipline to be taught. So, the technologies used should be different depending on the nature of the programme its requirements.
  3. It is possible to use ‘open source’ technologies sand ‘open content’ learning material to offer online programmes. Focus should be given more on teaching and learning, giving more interaction opportunity to the learners rather than development of materials alone.
  4. Faculty training and understanding about e-learning in crucial. In this context, teachers should be trained on technology, pedagogy, and use of both for specific content area.
  5. Workload of the faculty should be appropriately assessed. Online tutors should be engaged to provide more interaction.
  6. Assessment in online learning should be considered through innovative lenses. It should be beyond the pen and paper test. So, use of objective type test, e-portfolio, term paper, etc should be considered. Presentation in virtual conferences are useful to authenticate learners.
  7. At the design stage, the issues related to assessment should be addressed. So, clarity on this is there in the beginning itself. The learners know about the criteria of assessment, including the rubrics for each assessment tasks.
  8. The more synchronous and tutor-assessed components are there in an online programme, the less it is possible to scale up. However, it is possible to have more interactivity without synchronous activities by involving the learners in collaboration and peer assessment activities.
  9. Student cheating in online programme is a problem. Particularly unintentional plagiarism is a major concern, and the learners should be oriented about plagiarism, and referencing style.
  10. Online library support is crucial to the learner development. Leaving students to depend on Google search alone in not useful. Institutions should provide access to online databases and digital library of their own through individual user id and password.

You may like to add more to this list.

1 comment:

nisha said...

It was interesting to read your experiences of online learning. I think synchronous sessions are also very important and should be rightly channelized.The provision of online database to elearning students is very important for enhancing the quality of learning.