It is now twelve weeks since I first turned my computer on to a learning environment called “Online Learning”, a small defining component of e-learning. An environment that couldn’t be further from my original studies at University back in the late eighties where I spent twenty minutes trying to find somewhere to park, racing to my lecture or tutorial only to find “the good seats” all gone, and then realising how hungry I was and should have had a pit stop at the cafeteria before this two hour avalanche of information.
I have to confess that online learning was nothing as I had expected. I thought online learning was about logging in, getting my learning readings, “go home” ( i.e. debark from the signing on of the unit) , do some activities and email an assignment through to someone unknown called my lecturer. Feeling extremely naive now.
Perhaps it is the term we use…”Online learning”. Is it deceiving? There are no words in this title of interaction, collaboration and group experiences. They are two very isolated words that suggest, to me, that we are signing in and out of an environment as individuals floating in a “pool of other onliners”.
So, what are my thoughts now.? Having been introduced to the theories in Gilly Salmon’s “e-Moderating: The Key To Teaching and Learning Online” I even still questioned reaching what she called Stage 5 where “Participants are essentially using a constructivist’s approach to learning.” (Salmon, 2011)…no way, this is not going to happen in 12 weeks, surely??? How could I possibly engage in a university unit whereby the students are helping themselves and others without the full, visual, interactive support of a lecturer? To be identified as “Communities of Practice”. What a ridiculous expectation to ask…wrong again, I was!
It is now Week 12, and yes, our lecturer is “lurking”, some would rather say “quietly encouraging yet enabling presence” (Staples, 2013) , but the learning I am getting from other “uni students” is phenomenal, supportive, scaffolding, constructive and emotional.
Do I believe every online learning will be like this…not in a second! But do I believe, and now know, that it can be like this…absolutely. Oh, the doors it opens….
Enough blogging, time to go re-enrol in another unit, or two, or three…online, of course!