What is Online Learning?

Online learning is not new. What has made the topic new is the recent and unprecedented focus on providing learning via the Internet that has been stimulated by the tremendous interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). What is new in this space is that online learning has “come of age;” the design of online learning is (more and more) specifically intended to encompass the latest research, the most promising developments, and new emerging business models in the online learning environment. At many institutions, online learning is an area newly ripe for experimentation — some would argue it is undergoing a sea change, with every dimension of the process open for reconceptualization. On campuses around the globe, virtually every aspect of how students connect with institutions and each other to learn online is being reworked, rethought, and redone — but it will be some time yet before ideas coalesce enough to be validated by research and implemented broadly.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • There is growth and evolution in online learning with new developments in learning management systems (LMS) towards learner-centered and networked environments that foster connected learning experiences for students in higher education. Previous versions of LMSs or virtual learning environments (VLEs) were criticized for being too administrator-centric focused primarily on tracking attendance and analytics. New developments are focused on the social and collaborative aspects of learning and tools that afford active learning strategies that are more learner-centered by design. - Jolie Jolie Oct 23, 2014 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014
  • I'm not a programmer, so I cannot explain the details. But, Tin Can API or The Experience API sounds very promising as with it the learner records become independent of LMSs. I think this has significant implications in online learning. - kumiko.aoki kumiko.aoki Oct 26, 2014
  • Online learning working perfectly well with the in-service teacher training. Since the teachers have a busy schedule during the day, by online learning they have a flexibility to choose time and pace.- ateskan ateskan Oct 25, 2014
  • Online learning remains a strong trend in varying forms: synchronous, asynchronous, flipped/blended application and the use of MOOCs (full and partial applications, spliced in with blended learning and the use of this model to bridge high school students into college life). - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 27, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014
  • When online learning is steeped in community building and is supported by an active, present facilitator, it can promote the gradual development of skills. Online course design must incorporate scaffolded learning activities and student-student interactions fueled by opportunities to share real life experiences. Online learning gives every student a voice, not just the few in the front row. Today, we must recognize the difference between this type of online learning and teacherless MOOCs. I believe the future of higher education will need faculty to actively create and facilitate community-based online learning experiences. While it doesn't sound as earth shattering as a 10,000-student MOOC, this will support the needs of more learners, particularly those at community colleges. - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 27, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • As online learning has matured, so too has the course production services related to online learning. This business is no longer about a few innovative and brave faculty doing cool things, but instead it is about Higher Education organizational models required for supporting large-scale online course "clean-ups", updates, usability and accessibility reviews, prior to a course being "used" by the next cohort. One of the tensions in this course production era is the conflict between course usability/accessibility and academic freedom. - vforssman vforssman Oct 25, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014
  • Online learning is no longer an LMS-centric experience, where all content, learning activities and assessments were contained in a course shell; it has morphed into a learning technology ecosystem which integrates the LMS with various open web tools, such as blogs and wikis, digital storytelling tools, concept mapping environments, etc. - vforssman vforssman Oct 25, 2014 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • A huge element of the evolution of online learning is the need for learning facilitators to a) move past the idea that going online simply means moving onsite content into online environments, b) consistently work to improve their (our) online facilitation skills, and c) recognize that even in asynchronous online courses, our levels of interactions with learners significantly affect the learners' own levels of engagement--it's not enough to simply lecture/post content and hope for the best.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • A theme that is critical to consider are professional development models for assisting faculty with getting courses online. What are the best approaches? What tools are the best to learn? How to overcome inherent resistence to online models and the inevitable changes in the higher ed landscape? - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 27, 2014
  • Differentiation of how different levels of learners require different types of online courses. An online class at a community college, for example, will include students of all levels, in addition to a high percentage of students that are ESL learners and/or students that have learning differences. When online classes are designed to be community-rich and focus on developing social presence (particularly through the use of asynchronous voice and video technologies), the needs of more learners are supported.In the United States, community colleges have led the way in online enrollments. Since they are not research institutions, the conversation about online learning at CCs is often marginalized. How can all institutional types learn from each other? - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 27, 2014
  • Pure online i.e. distance learning is big business, and has many wonderful things to be said for it, especially In terms of opening up education to non-standard students. Financially the model is sound, as there is no need to provide infrastructure for students on campus. However, educationally the model leads a lot to be desired, as many courses are simply translations of existing face to face courses. Until new paradigms are adopted which allow the creation of online courses that provide just as good, if not better, education as offline, traditional courses do, they will always remain a poor relation. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 27, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • The potential impacts of this technology are time and resource saving and flexible learning environments.- ateskan ateskan Oct 25, 2014 Jefrina- jefrina.jamaluddin jefrina.jamaluddin Oct 27, 2014
  • My own experience is that we're not saving time or money when we create and facilitate engaging online learning opportunities, but we do extend our reach and, in significant ways, increase the reach of what we are providing; the result, in the best of cases, is to better serve our learners--particularly if we find ways to seamlessly blend our onsite and online interactions.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014I - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 27, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014
  • Increased creativity in how courses are designed, greater effectiveness of learning content and more robust engagement of material on behalf of the students, greater savings of physical resources (such as classroom space) and a deeper satisfaction in teaching (once an educator can embrace the positive aspects of this change.) - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 27, 2014 - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 27, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014
  • Faculty need training and the traditional "boutique" model (face-to-face workshops and consultations) is not sustainable. Faculty development itself needs to be shifted into online environments so faculty can learn to teach online as online learners themselves. Moreover, the concept of "humanizing" should play a major role in the faculty development process. Rena Palloff recently shared that one of the things new online faculty are most concerned about is their presence online. This is precisely the power of so many new technologies today -- simple video creation delivers the human gestures and cues of "real" person to student at a distance. When faculty have low-risk opportunities to experiment with these technologies, they feel empowered and understand, "I can do this!" - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 27, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 27, 2014
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