Are you new to the idea of giving your students digital options? Online learning can really provide a much more diverse learning experience, but it also comes with some challenges. Here are some of the biggest questions that instructors might not ask, (but might need to know,) before implementing online learning in the classroom.
Interfaces Can be Glitchy
First, you have to think about your logical limitations and potential obstacles. Does your school or building have sufficient bandwidth, and a good signal? Is security architecture laid out so that it's not going to block your instructional materials? What happens when you start a video?
Troubleshooting all of this beforehand helps you to weather the storms that may come your way while you're trying to actually deliver online learning to students in real time.
It's also a good idea to think about the issue of computer literacy -- will all of your students be able to navigate the online learning resources, or will some of them need help? If you are just broadcasting video, it's not a problem, but if you're doing quizzes or tests online, or any or using any other interactive interface, you'll want to make sure that you have the resources on hand to help students who need a little extra assistance. A page at eLearning Industry goes over some of these classroom ideas in more detail, describing how student needs can affect the delivery of online learning resources.
Little Attention Spans
The subtitle is not meant to be condescending -- and the challenges of dealing with student attention spans aren’t limited to the younger grades.
All of us have seen our ability to focus generally shrink when presented with the blizzard of digital advertising and other distractions thrown at us everywhere we go. In the smartphone age, it's wise to anticipate that your students might not have the best attention spans, and that they still need to be focused toward learning.
Too many teachers simply think that focus in online learning takes care of itself because of the format, especially if there's video involved. However, that's not the case. You have to really think about how the lessons will flow, and how the online component will fit in. Get tips and tricks from GradHacker to hone your e-learning skills.
Loss of Orientation and Motivation
An associated challenge is related to the ways students work together, and the traditional classroom environment, which relies on face-to-face interaction.
For online learning, you'll need to really think about how to format digital components -- will the students all get together to view the content in a single group, or will you split them up into a group work environment? How will you keep students on task, and how will you help them if they feel disoriented by dealing with a new kind of format?
In other words, with online learning, the same challenges apply in terms of motivating students and providing them with a roadmap toward whatever they're trying to learn. Let's take the example of the geology survey of rocks. Sure, you might have a neat set of digital pictures in a slide show displaying the beautiful colors and patterns of minerals like pyrite, quartz and other favorites -- but unless you have the tools to help students sort through these toward a specific task, it's just a pretty picture.
When you're going to use online components in teaching, lesson planning and context are key. Go through and plan the instruction time out, and make sure you know how online learning will fit in.
Here's another thing you may not know about online learning -- there is an amazing diversity of resources available!
From Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs to free digital lessons, instructive videos and interactive brain puzzles, you have a whole digital world at your fingertips.
Used in an appropriate way, online learning can really enhance almost any lesson. Going back to the geology example, adding the visual component and a working interactive guide can really help make learning a lot more hands-on. It can give students a broader depth of study. Just keep a lot of the above in mind as you go, and realize that online learning isn't as simple as setting up a projector or workstation. It still required detailed planning and skilled preparation.
If you want to quickly and easily start to implement online learning into your classroom, Knovva is offering all teachers access to our global understanding course, Living in a Connected World. Use this online course as a blended learning, flipped classroom module or have students work independently as curriculum enhancement.