Why Students Need More Control Over Their Online Education

Traditional institutions frequently take pride in the connections that students make on their campuses because these connections eventually help students form strong support networks. There is no reason why students who study online cannot gain these advantages. In this post, I’ll explain how to give students more control over their online education to improve that experience.

Redefining Online Education

With the help of modern technology, educators may now interact with students in online learning in new and creative ways. However, for students, this experience may come across as more robotic than rewarding.

Students in most online courses scan reading materials, navigate pre-made PowerPoint presentations, and view subpar lecture recordings. Sometimes, a brief online forum debate comes afterwards. Students then complete the associated homework, receive their grades, and repeat similar actions in the subsequent lessons.

What is the flaw in this system? A lot. Let’s start by acknowledging that many online learning platforms are essentially offline courses that have been released directly on the internet. Simply said, these experiences don’t translate.

Online courses also frequently limit teacher-student interactions and don’t take into account the needs of students who learn differently and benefit more from individualized instruction. However, eliminating online courses is not necessary. Instead, giving students back power may and should result in a more meaningful learning experience.

Allowing students to choose their own learning style will foster a sense of pride and make the subject matter more pertinent. Imagine that the outcome enabled pupils to construct something practical right away.

CEO of High Tech High Larry Rosenstock put this theory to the test, as mentioned in Most Likely To Succeed. After physically making objects like chairs and connecting difficult mathematical ideas to meaningful outcomes, he discovered that his students were genuinely remembering the material.

4 Ways To Improve Students’ Online Education Experience  

Online teachers can easily customize to specific students thanks to modern technologies. Here are 4 ways teachers might relinquish power to students in order to improve the overall online learning experience:

1. Use a project-based learning approach.

We set up our online courses at my company using a project-first learning approach. Each course’s curriculum is based on student-chosen and student-performed projects. Teachers are providers of information and mentors. Students truly desire to study, explore and put their talents to use when they are given the freedom to design projects that are significant to them. Learning is not a chore; rather, it is an exciting journey that will result in something beneficial. The outcomes are self-evident. Our course completion rates are typically between 25 and 30 percent, which is around four times higher than the average MOOC completion rate.

2.Make A Modular, Nonlinear Curriculum.

Who says you have to begin with addition and conclude with calculus if you are taking a general math course? Instead of starting with addition, moving on to algebra, and ending with division, why not? Many courses don’t have to be taken in a specific order. Instead, nonlinear learning is an option for students. This is what I like to refer to as the “Wikipedia model of schooling.” Exploration that is motivated by a student’s interests leads to learning. Allowing access to all course materials rather than securing some classes until everyone has finished them will empower students.

3.Allow students to select their own pace.

Students not only have their own unique and preferred learning paces, but they also have life outside of the classroom that they have to attend to. It’s possible that one student is a harried businessperson who frequently travels, that another student is a frazzled mom dealing with a sick child, and that a third student is a young adult traveling through Europe on his or her own. A class that gives students the option to move through the assignments at their own speed is appealing not only to those who like to go at a more leisurely pace, but also to those who like to charge forward. Students at our institution finish their coursework in a variety of different methods. Some students will enroll in the first part of a class, then disappear for a few months before coming back to finish it. Others rush through the challenges as if they were watching many episodes of “House of Cards” in a row on Netflix. EdSurge recently published an interesting article about Cathedral Catholic Academy, a small private school in Honolulu that dramatically reversed its declining student body by implementing a blended learning model. The article is titled “How a Blended Learning Model Saved Cathedral Catholic Academy.” Students were given the opportunity to learn at their own pace and to demonstrate what they had learned by completing projects under this paradigm, among other benefits.

4.Open Communication Lines.

No matter how rapid technology progresses, it will never be able to take the place of the long-lasting impression that a good teacher can have on their pupils. It is necessary for instructors to take a more active role in the online education experience of their students and to encourage learning in both individual and group settings. It is helpful to determine whether or not a course is valuable by asking students what they want to gain from it. In addition, educators are able to enhance the learning experience by fostering an environment in which students are encouraged to interact with one another and gain knowledge from one another. The purpose of technological platforms like Google Hangouts, email, and text messaging is to promote communication. Technology is all about making communication more frequent. The instructors need to learn to be flexible, have live office hours, and connect with the students in depth.

Having a choice is a really important thing. You will be astonished to see how eager students are to master new abilities and put those talents into practice when you give them more control over their online education. You will provide students with a better overall learning experience whether you choose to implement project-first learning, nonlinear formats, self-paced courses, or more flexible communication techniques, or whether you choose to implement all of the above.

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