I notice from many blogs that the trend of thinking from many educators seems to be that people want to study online so that they can learn at their own pace, when they want and how they want (at least that’s how it is advertised).
But talking to many students, the comments are that they would go to a ‘real’ venue if they could but distance and the time of day makes it not feasible.
From the experience of the most effective educators that I have worked with, the successful online educators use a fixed time online and/or by teleconference, more similar to a real classroom, with much higher success rates than the current online learning trend. By combining a fixed time for online students, a consistent group and expectation, the students are much more accountable and therefore produce much better outcomes.
It’s like how you leave a person to manage their own fitness, it usually doesn’t work. Put them with a personal trainer that has real expectations of them and they produce results. We need to get solid statistics on this but anecdotal evidence already suggests that existing online facilitation, where the students learn as they feel, is not necessarily an effective experience.
In-fact in the real world people are motivated by a boss that urges them to complete tasks that is in turn motivated by a pay cheque. As much as we want to think that educated people will be self motivated, the reality is that everyone is motivated by reason x. Reason x can obviously vary dramatically. But the majority of people, when in an education environment are motivated when reason x is a mentor(teacher) that has an expectation of the person.
So the concept that online learning is supplying content and a platform with automated tests will result in a world of educated people is a bit of a dream.
Take all the people out of Facebook and you have a lot of blogs that no one reads. The expectation that someone will ‘like’ what you write or even respond is what keeps Facebook alive.
In the same way, online education without expectation, without real people on the other end is basically useless and for the most part feels like you’re just talking to yourself. If I could put it in a sentence.
Online education MUST have a REAL PERSON with REAL EXPECTATIONS and REAL COMMUNICATION to provide the environment for a learner to REALLY LEARN.