(For week 10.)
When talking about web technology for learning, we can never forget online courses. I myself am taking an online course this semester, which troubles me a lot, but also teaches me a lot.
I have read about a study of comparing the online learning engagement between distance learners and on-campus students. Those conclusions are surprisingly applicable to my situation, the same as what I have experienced and observed. Distance learners tend to experience “higher levels of academic challenge and reflective thinking, gain more in terms of practical competence and in personal and social development“, interact more with faculty, and participate more in leaning communities and independent study (Chen, Gonyea, & Kuh, 2008). They reveal weakness in only one area - active and collaborative learning.
As an on-campus student, I spent long time getting used to online learning, including e-reading, weekly discussion in the OnCourse forum and cooperation with distance students. Because I have to disribute my concentration to different courses, I didn't perform actively enough in group work earlier this semester. With the majority in our group being native speakers, I cannot understand many of their words typed during the group meeting. (We use breeze for meeting, but all of us tend to type...) I apologized a lot for my slow reaction in English. When I saw comments like "Shuya need more participation" in the mid-term peer evaluation, I was really embarrassed and stimulated. From then on, I tried to speak more, take more of the tasks, and reply to group emails as soom as possible. I don't know how much I have improved my performance or whether group members feel better about me. Whatever, I have tried my best...
This article mentions some recommendations for encouraging active and collaborative learning, which is from Dr. Bonk and Zhang. Online instructors can design assignments that feature group discussion, collaborative problem-solving, case studies, group blogging, team reflection papers, and debates. Assigning every student a "critical friend" in the class who provides feedback on course assignments is one way of ensuring that distance learners interact with peers. These are valuable online teaching methods that I need to write down and refer to when necessary.
Chen, P., R. Gonyea, and G. Kuh (2008). Learning at a distance: Engaged or not?.
Innovate 4 (3). Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from