As learning continues to take place online, supporting students with their learning and staying connected with them are important. Online learning can be overwhelming when a lot of content and tasks are being posted in cyberspace. A certain level of self-motivation and discipline is needed to stay on track with learning. It is imperative to find ways to help students keep track of their progress and get to know how well they are doing.
As faculty prepare online courses, many are asking crucial questions: how do students learn online and how does this differ from what happens in class?
There is some good news: the same psychological processes are at work in the classroom and online. In a recent review of the research, e-learning expert Will Thalheimer found that where the teaching was the same, the learning was the same.
When it comes to academic misconduct, higher education institutions generally take a reactive approach, with retributory measures for those caught. But with plagiarism sharply on the rise as more learning moves online, this clearly is not working.
However, there are positive steps that we can take to minimise it.
Disabled students have long campaigned for accessible online learning. Progress was slow, and there was significant resistance. Things changed when national lockdowns in many countries forced all learning online in a matter of weeks.
Old myths and excuses had to be swept aside to enable the student cohort to complete the academic year in 2020 and while the context may not have been ideal, it represented a significant positive step forward.
Engagement and interactivity are crucial to positive learning outcomes. If students are not engaged and participating then they are less likely to succeed in their studies, or find much joy or enlightenment in their experience, and we have failed in our roles as educators.
After the upheaval of Covid-19, many questions remain unanswered about the future of higher education.
One that we can start to answer to is how universities can ensure that students are “work ready” – or rather “career capable” – and how they can develop their employability through virtual experiences.
The pandemic has meant that almost all universities have been forced to shift to virtual learning. But many were unprepared to maximise the potential for delivering experiential learning online.
Until recently, there has been one constant in the delivery of teaching in higher education that no longer sits comfortably with what we know about student learning: lectures.
While lectures might have changed slightly due to technology, it has been a process of substitution rather than redefinition: from chalkboards to overhead projectors to PowerPoints and now, accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic, to online.
Student collaboration has always been integral to the learner journey. But now, as the pandemic has limited opportunities for face-to-face discussions, such interaction must take place online.
Remote learning, aided by mediation that technology can offer, has made online collaborative learning in 2021 more important than ever, particularly for students wishing to study abroad or learn from different cultures.
So how can universities support greater online collaboration?
As debate continues over online versus on-campus teaching, many in higher education argue the “distance-learning revolution” hasn’t taken hold because online learning just isn’t as good.
This attitude highlights why many colleges were disoriented when they had to quickly evacuate in 2020. It underscores a serious problem: many academics perceive digital education as encroaching on the traditional collegiate experience.