As a distance running coach, I clearly and innately understand the requirement for variety in our workouts, in the terrain and also in the environment and scenery. Running the same route day in and day out certainly becomes comfortable, but for competitive distance runners, it also becomes stagnant, and will almost always suspend growth, both physically and mentally. I am left wondering if online education reflects some of these same tendencies. Although, students’ desire for predictability must at some point supersede the need for variety since in education, we all struggle between the world of grades and the need to push into the discomfort of real learning.
Moore (2012) states that effective use of a technology depends upon having adequate experience with it in distance-learning applications. Even familiar technologies, such as the Web, print, or television, require special adaptations in distance-learning.” Therefore, covering familiar technological terrain in a predictable fashion and on a regular basis certainly makes perfect sense. At some point though, variety needs to be introduced and implemented.
Social Presence like variety is a necessary component of online teaching and learning. the Instructor / Student connection is vital if the developers of the online course hope for a valid evaluation of the course. Building the course is just one component. Implementation of that course through the Emotional /Social Presence often becomes the most important aspect of that course. “Yet after reviewing the research there is evidence from a variety of sources that suggests emotions play a powerful role in learners’ engagement and achievement, and that the role of emotions in online learning deserves special consideration” (Artino, 2012; Rienties & Rivers, 2014).
Artino, Anthony R. (2012). “Emotions in online learning environments: Introduction to the special issue.” The Internet and Higher Education 15(3): (pp. 137-140).
Moore, M. G. (2012). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning, 3rd Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781133715450/
Morrison, D. (2016, August 16). A New Twist to Teaching Online: Considering Learners’ Emotions [Web log post]. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/about/