My experience tells me that the challenges faced by online learners are not necessarily different from those in a regular classroom situation. Students need to connect socially in order to feel that they can be a part of a larger group. They need to connect with the instructor at some level and be able to navigate the expectations. They need to find the motivation to move forward with the class and with the learning challenges. Certainly, online learning demands more from the learner than the standard face-to-face course, simply due to the fact that the online learner relies on internal motivation and the face-to-face learner relies much more so on external motivation (Moore, 2012).
It is vital that students are connected to the instructor, the other students in the course , and with the course work. ” Students may become disengaged if they feel isolated or if they don’t get to interact with their instructor and peers” (Briggs, 2015). The course should begin with activities and assignments that compel the students into safe interaction with the technology, the instructor and with each other.
Students should be encouraged to log on to the site at least once per day. “Students who participate consistently report a much higher level of satisfaction with the online learning experience”(Accetta, 2016) which also helps to create a daily habit of access and often leads to an unexpected motivational technique. There are times when we want to procrastinate since, “procrastination is the number one enemy of distance learning” (Moore, 2012), and the student that falls behind on the first assignment tends to not find success in his online experience.
Inevitably, online learning requires tenacity, focus, discipline and a commitment. The instructor connecting with the students appears to be the number one factor in whether students fail or succeed. Chucked lessons also help and realistic deadlines, as well as prompt feedback on submitted work also makes the difference, but the social connection is vital if most students are going to make it.
Accetta, R., Ph.D. (2016). Tips and Strategies for the Successful Online Student. Retrieved October 16, 2016, from http://computerschools.com/resources/tips-and-strategies-for-the-successful-online-student
Briggs, A. (2015, February 11). TEN WAYS TO OVERCOME BARRIERS TO STUDENT ENGAGEMENT ONLINE (ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGY: AT THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY). Retrieved October 16, 2016, from http://onlinelearningconsortium.org/news_item/ten-ways-overcome-barriers-student-engagement-online/
Burns, M. (2011). Distance learning for teacher training: modes, models and methods. Available: http://go.edc.org/07xd
Moore, M. G. (2012). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning, 3rd Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved fromhttps://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781133715450/