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Online education has become a common trend in learning institutions, especially in tertiary establishments. Most instructors and students take part in this activity from their computers and mobile devices (Jones 50). There are various variations between online learning and conventional education. However, some similarities exist between the two. For instance, in both, starting a new class or course is regarded as a nerve wrecking experience for both teachers and learners (Bernstorff 252). The observation is mainly attributed to the nervousness associated with the new environment. For this reason, education experts recommend that classes should begin with activities that create a rapport or act as icebreakers between the instructors and the learners. Bender provides a number of activities that can be used to thaw the “ice crystals”, especially with online students (82). One of them, which I have selected for this blog, involves asking the students to state what they hope to learn from the course. The activity can be used to enhance online education.
Description of the Activity
In this activity, the instructor asks the students to list their learning objectives (Bender 84). The learners are engaged in a discussion that seeks to bring out their views and expectations. Honesty is of great importance to this activity. Discussion topics can range from what the students expect to why they chose the course (Bradford 240). It is an effective icebreaker given that the instructor not only creates rapport, but also gets to gauge the attitudes the students have towards the course.
Importance of the Activity with Regards to Online Learning
The activity can be used to enhance online learning. First, the information obtained from the learners can be used to improve the course. For instance, an instructor is able to encourage the students to take responsibility when it comes to achieving their stated objectives (Egan 444). According to Bender, the activity can help the instructor and the learners to develop some sort of a learning contract or agreement to achieve the said objectives (84). In addition, the instructor also gets to learn about the students’ interests in areas that are not included in the syllabus. As such, they are able to offer individual research projects that help the learners to achieve their objectives. The activity can also enhance online learning through syllabus reviews (Howell & Hricko 56. The objective is achieved especially if the syllabus is seen to vary significantly from the expectations of the learners.
Meeting the Goals and Objectives of the Course
Online learning is fairly new compared to physical contact form of education (Howell & Hricko 56). As such, navigating through an online course is like moving through uncharted territories of murky waters. However, in spite of these and other difficulties, I was able to meet most of the goals and objectives I had set for my adult online learning course. The reason was mainly because of unlimited access to online resources and flexible learning hours. The learning hours suited my needs perfectly.
Addressing Issues in the Course
In the course of my adult online teaching class, there was little information missing from my learning experience. However, collapse and crash of websites was a common occurrence. It was a major source of inconvenience for me at the beginning. I resolved this issue by accessing the website from a better and stronger network connection. In addition to the connection issues, I also felt a strong disconnect from my instructor at the beginning of the course. We seemed to interact at an abstract level. However, I felt part of the team when I learned how to take part in online discussions even after class hours (Howell and Hricko 34). Consequently, I could still interact with my instructor and fellow learners outside the learning platform.
Application in Professional Practice
Adult online learning requires self-control on the part of the student. In addition, it requires one to keep time for it to be effective. The reason is mainly because majority of the discussions held by the instructors require punctual attendance. It is the only way through which one can fully grasp the concepts taught in class. I plan to use the self-control and time keeping virtues I acquired to enhance my professional life. The two virtues will go a long way in solving problems that I may encounter in the field (Bender 88). I also learned to be flexible. The virtue will help me to effectively adjust to the changing environment in my profession. The reason is that change is an inevitable part of any given profession.
Adult online learning is a common feature of most institutions in the country. There are various similarities between this module of learning and physical contact classes. For example, an introduction that serves as an icebreaker is used to set the pace of the learning process. It is also evident that the expectations and desires expressed by the adult students can be used to create rapport. In addition, they can be used to improve the quality of adult online teaching.
Bender, Tisha. Discussion-Based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning. 2nd ed. 2012. Sterling: Stylus Publishing. Print.
Bernstorff, Hermann. “The First Lesson in a Beginning Class”. The Modern Language Journal 27.4 (2003): 251-253. Print.
Bradford, James. “Fresh Thoughts on the First EFL Lesson”. English Language Teaching 25.3 (2007): 239-241. Print.
Egan, Kieran. “Start with What the Student Knows or with What the Student can Imagine?,” Delta Kaplan 84.6 (2003): 443-445. Print.
Howell, Scott, and Mary Hricko. Online Assessment and Measurement, Hershey: Information Science Publication, 2006. Print.
Jones, Anna. “Online Communication in Language Learning and Teaching,” Choice Reviews 46.1 (2008): 46-112. Print.