Lessons a Foreign Student Learned from an Online Course - Tech Learning

Lessons a Foreign Student Learned from an Online Course

Introduction: When I took EDUI 6707, one of the required courses in the MS Program for Online Teaching and Learning at CSUH (California State University, Hayward) I thought I knew and was familiar with the basic theories, concepts and computer technologies for online teaching and learning. But I soon realized that
Author:
Publish date:

Introduction:

When I took EDUI 6707, one of the required courses in the MS Program for Online Teaching and Learning at CSUH (California State University, Hayward) I thought I knew and was familiar with the basic theories, concepts and computer technologies for online teaching and learning. But I soon realized that there were lots of things I had not experienced about becoming a good, qualified online instructor, even an online learner. During the first four weeks of intensive practices of building and facilitating online community, I learned some important lessons on how to become a good online instructor from my own experience as a student and from the observations of my instructor’s teaching practices.

The first lesson: Encourage Student Participation

We have discussed the advantages of online education compared with face-to-face education in my previous courses. We all agreed that frequent and supportive contacts are salient components in fostering student involvement, motivation, and course completion. If I could go back to face-to-face classes again I would be one of those students who do not ask or answer questions. There are a couple of reasons for this, such as: I don’t want to interrupt the instructor, I don’t want to be laughed at for asking silly questions, I am not sure if I know the answer to the question, and so on and on. But online classes make it easier. Online learning style allows students more time to find out the answer for themselves instead of asking. There is no time constraint to compose your answer, no lecture to interrupt, and no fear of being laughed at. Other than that, it is even easier and more convenient to discuss values and personal concerns in writing than orally. Therefore, through Email or discussion boards, students can receive much needed and prompt individual attention.

The second lesson: Give Prompt Feedback

In order to assess students’ competence, keep them motivated and on task, and generally know how they are progressing, learners need frequent, prompt individual feedback. My class’s weekly reflection is a very good practice to keep everyone on track. Without physical interaction, how to assess and measure student learning becomes even more critical. Therefore, it helps to gauge student participation by discussion board feedback and response. Also, Email, online evaluations, peer reviews and CMS tracking system are most commonly used for this purpose. Computer archiving of students’ records can also help evaluate performance over time and aid in formative assessment.

The third lesson: Build an Online Learning Community

The online teaching and learning environment facilitates many collaborative activities, such as discussions of assignments, group projects, study groups, or peer responses among classmates in different locations and time zones. Such team interactions develop working relationships which form the foundation of an online learning community. If students feel they are part of the community, they are more willing to be motivated, to participate, to contribute, to seek solutions to their problems, and to succeed. This will help learners to understand ideas and concepts beyond the levels that could be attained alone. I still remember the hardest time I had in the beginning of the course. Since I am from China, and this is the first course I took in the US, I discovered a big difference between Eastern and Western education. I am used to the passive learning style. But after a few weeks of observation I tried to express my idea and joined the online discussion group. I found out that it was such a wonderful community to learn from peers and share with each other. It made me very excited about the online learning style. But I also found out that language and cultural background is the major barrier one has to face. Most of my classmates are native speakers of English, and sometimes they have some difficulties understanding my points because of my background and language. So I was trying to learn the native way to express my ideas and that worked. I was happy that I was not only learning my major but also improving my English. I think if you are watching the show from an audience seat, you never can be a good actor. Jump onto the stage, play your role, and you will contribute to the community. This was the best experience I had.

Conclusion:

The three lessons all tell us that online education should focus on changing the learning style from passive learning to active learning. Utilizing the above teaching and learning practices, learners are able to be active and responsible participants, connecting new knowledge to past experiences, discussing, analyzing, critiquing and writing about what they are learning, as well as applying it to their life.

Chao Wang

Featured

Related

Staffing Online Courses

My district is going to start offering locally developed and taught online courses in the fall. We realize that course design must be different, but are there other pitfalls we need to anticipate? There are several, but staffing is a critical issue that is catching many districts by surprise.

Building a Learning Community Online

I have come to believe, as a high school math teacher, that the terms "learning" and "community" are both necessary to successfully guide students to the knowledge that they need. With online learning, I think that one might seek to establish too much of one without enough of the other. Yet, as instructors, we

Online Courses for Reading Teachers

This year's renewed emphasis on teacher quality has prompted a boom in e-learning options for professional development. And given the emphasis of No Child Left Behind, the current topic of choice is reading. Today's sources of such programs are numerous — with training embedded into curriculum offerings from

Graduate Students Grade Online Instruction

Abstract: This paper examines graduate student perceptions about the advantages and disadvantages of online instruction, also referred to as distance learning. An open-ended survey assessed information from 110 graduate students majoring in special education. We analyzed the data after coding it into categories

Livening Up Foreign Language

from Technology & Learning Technology enables language learning in authentic situations. Technology has long been associated with language learning: we're familiar with seeing children wearing headsets, reciting in unison recordings of Spanish or French vocabulary words. Nowadays, students can experience

Connecting with Students Online

By Eileen Harden Florida Virtual School Social Studies Instructor Connecting with students online presents challenges, as well as rewards. I never meet my students face-to-face, so it is important that I establish a warm, nurturing and supportive environment from the beginning. One of the best ways an online

Ten Tips and Tricks for the Online Student

In the summer of 2000 I began an online Masters program at the University of Phoenix. I wasn’t expecting too many bumps in the online road. After all, I regularly spent time on the Internet; I used chat programs and newsgroups and my job title, District Instructional Technology Coordinator, had me firmly entrenched

Partnership expands online course offerings

Connections Learning (www.ConnectionsLearning.com ) and Virtual High School Global Consortium (www.govhs.org ),  today announced a partnership designed to expand the number of core online courses that Virtual High School (VHS) offers their 770 member schools worldwide