By Carmenita Oersen |
I began my Master’s journey during the year that I saw the world go into lockdown due to Covid-19. This meant no contact sessions, no physical presence on campus, and initial struggles accessing the university’s portals as they restructured for the new “normal” and developed ways for students to be taught remotely. Although accommodations for learning during lockdown were made quickly, the initial shock of managing this way of learning threw me off at the beginning.
To find a manner that could ensure I kept on track with my progress, I needed to find other sources of education that could assist me as I proceeded with my degree.
That is when I became more interested in online learning and its benefits. With new platforms and forms of education quickly springing up, online learning during lockdown became a very viable option.
“In times where small instructor-led classrooms tend to be the exception, electronic learning solutions can offer more collaboration and interaction with experts and peers, as well as a higher success rate than the live alternative.” – Keith Bachman
The main points I found while looking at and learning from the online forms of education were as follows:
Content and Accessibility Access
The access to content is continuous. What this meant for me was that I could work at a pace I found comfortable at any time of the day or night, which greatly increased my performance. Not being forced to work during a time of day when I was less productive made me more eager to partake in the learning experience and activities.
“Online learning can be a lifeline to those who have obstacles, such as geographical distances or physical disabilities.” – Paul Levinson
The added benefit of continued access to content is continued access to lecturers and other learners. With the online support available, the ability for me to have queries responded to was unlimited. From those providing the content and those accessing the content, the online support community gave me much-needed answers when I would feel lost. I also had access to communities to discuss the content with and better understood what I was learning from many varied perspectives.
Abundant, Focused Content
When attending classes physically, there is a general pull towards accessing only the content supplied within the classroom, which leads to a smaller view of many subjects. What online learning has achieved is a collection of content from many sources. The student can visit many sites, learn from numerous courses (of which a large quantity is free), and have access to content from great minds worldwide. As this content is online, there are regular updates concerning the topic of interest constantly taking place.
The student now has access to material and content that might have been inaccessible at the learning institution, or perhaps an option the student had not previously thought about researching. And with the large variety of content and courses available on any one subject, students can have more control over their own learning experience and where their focus is aimed. By combining the online course with the content I received from my learning institution, I grew and developed much greater than I would have with just the traditional method of learning.
As I became accustomed to online learning and all it had to offer, my interest in what was available grew. I began to look at the multitude of courses available. I found courses related to my masters that were not content I would have covered in normal circumstances. My increased interest allowed me to gain information and skills that greatly assisted me in the process of gaining a meaningful education.
For myself, with a focus on virtual reality content development, I was able to look at where the world is growing, see what others were developing, learn skills that were not a part of my institutional course but that greatly improved my understanding of the concept, and allowed for skills that I would not have picked up until after I was done studying.
“You can’t teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it.” – Seymour Papert
Though online learning, especially learning during lockdown, may have been a transition for many learners, there are an array of opportunities it presents. In reality, there are endless possibilities for online courses to enhance learner experiences—it all starts with an open mind and a willingness to try something new.
Learning Technologist at Construct