We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
It is impossible to replace in-person interaction and experience. Learning online is valuable, but is not a complete substitute.
Some people might prefer online interactions because there is less social pressure (quick! log off!) or it is the only option or more convenient, but the face-to-face modality is the best for learning how to interact with other people face-to-face, which is a part of learning how to be a person.
I want my kids to learn how to be together and interact with people individually and in groups, real, live, and naturally, as well as in online scenarios.
As technology gets better the online experience will get better. Faster PC's, higher bandwidth and better software will only make online collaboration more effective. Just imagine the whole online class sitting in front of their PC with a web camera and microphone. Everyone can see and hear each other but with a moderator who can control when and how people can ask questions etc. The moderator can use a whiteboard or share presentations etc. In fact this kind of collaboration software already exists i just haven't seen or heard of it being used for the online class setting.
Online learning opens many doors for some learners. They can be engaged and learning 24/7. This is great if the technolgy is working and the student is self motivated or engaged. The interaction with others in the course and the teachers can be supportive but not the same as the physical classroom. If the student is not self motivated or doesn't have the technical skills then their learning can come off the tracks. In a traditional classroom there is the interqction of students in a physical way and the physical presences of the teachers and other classmates.
This is the view of a Digital Immigrant and not that of a Digital native who has grown-up with the technolgy. I have taken Distance Learning courses nad Online learning courses as well as additional qualification course. Each has their own challenges and rewards.
Adults rarely have the perserverance and organization needed to complete courses on line. We would be setting a child up for failure to expect them to be able to complete courses this way.
I have participated in several online learning formats offered by three different universities across the nation for various educational certifications and professional development opportunities. Now, as I complete my doctoral degree in educational leadership through an online program, I am more convinced than ever that online learning can be effective, challenging and greatly rewarding. I actually spend more time studying and writing because I do not have to spend time commuting or waiting for classes to start. I have had the opportunity to meet my cohort members during yearly residencies so I feel that I have had the best of both worlds (online & brick-and-mortar. Due to my experiences, I feel that online learning is a viable educational alternative for students and staff learning.
While I am a traditional type of learner gaining more from interaction with other students and the teacher in a face-to-face setting, I have also experienced online classes. I found myself more caught-up in the technology of processing the material than actually learning what was being presented. As a result, I do not even remember what the online courses were or anything about the material. It is an easy way to gain the Act48 credits required in Pennsylvania; get the hours, forget about the content.
Online learning truly does offer flexibility and technological skills for the new century, but it is not "just as good" as a conventional classroom. I have been taking online and regular classes for over fifteen years and there is a difference. while the convenience and offerings that online classes can provide could not possibly be matched in a conventional classroom, the social interaction with your fellow students and the instructor can be invaluable and (I believe) essential for some topics.
Online learning can be just as effective as face-to-face classroom learning when it is used in combination with face-to-face learning to offer students and teachers opportunities to know and understand one another in a meaningful and complementary approach.