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Not All Online Learning Is Created Equal

The global pandemic and the stay home policies that followed have us all making a lot of adjustments. One of the adjustments that people of all ages are making is the move to online training and learning. For people used to teaching and learning in a face-to-face environment, that adjustment can be a challenge. Even the team at Remote Learner – an entirely remote company in the business of online learning – has been challenged. A couple of weeks ago, we documented the work our colleague, Andrea Brevard, is doing to help ease the transition to homeschooling for her children’s school community.

Now that the transition to online learning has been in effect for a few weeks, it’s perhaps natural that frustrations with this new experience are starting to come out. Recently, Inside Higher Education published an op-ed article on “How to Responsibly Reopen Colleges in the Fall.” which contain the following quote: “Continuing with virtual learning threatens the entire concept of the college experience. Higher education, like K-12, depends on proximity to real people, not squares on a screen. Educators at all levels have dedicated themselves to teaching students during the pandemic, but they know that they’re offering thin pedagogical gruel. The main reason why the ‘distance learning revolution’ didn’t replace the traditional model is that online learning just isn’t as good. And because of that, it can’t be offered at full price.”

Dr. Page Chen, Remote Learner’s President and CIO, shared another example of frustration with a blog title that says it all: My Son Hates Remote Learning.

So is online learning bad? Of course not. Bad online learning is bad, just like bad face-to-face learning is bad. So what makes good online learning…good?

In his blog, Phil on Ed Tech, Phil Hill and Stephanie Moore answer that question while offering a strong rebuttal to the Inside Higher Education Op-Ed:

What we have learned from such a large research effort is that no one medium is better than another – because it’s not the medium itself that accounts for differences. What makes a difference is the design – specifically the application of an intentional instructional design process and the implementation of effective instructional methods or strategies.

As you can imagine, Dr. Chen, who has spent her career evaluating effective learning methodologies, didn’t take her son’s frustration lying down either:

It’s important to remember that the use of a virtual classroom alone doesn’t create an engaging learning experience. Just like how loading a video and a PDF into a course shell doesn’t mean you have now trained your workforce online. A well-designed learning management system is essential to an effective online learning experience.

If you accept that well-designed online learning can be enjoyable and effective, the next logical question to ask would be, “What does a well-designed online learning experience look like?”

This is where Remote Learner can help.

Dr. Chen offered a glimpse into the Remote Learner way with a blog entitled Designing to Persuade a Learning State of Mind, which systematically walks through the use of Persuasive Design Strategies in the creation of a well-designed learning environment.

Last month, we hosted a public webinar on taking a face-to-face course online that you can watch here.

If your initial steps into the world of online learning have been a little bumpy, we understand. If you’re ready to take the next step more successful, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about how.