Learning online (for the first time?)

Learning on-line clearly has key differences from learning in other modes. But there are also key differences between the way you learn, and the way other participants in the programme learn – including the tutors. The same applies to your own students: each student has a unique way of constructing, understanding and communicating knowledge and skills, whether this is on a face to face or an online programme.

There is also no single way to engage with an on-line programme such as this one. The programme will evolve and change as you and your peers become more involved in the activities and the outcomes. In many ways, this programme is only as good as you choose to make it. You will have a number of opportunities to engage with your tutors, other learners and hopefully connect to a wider community of practice in teaching and learning, but you have to choose the ways to do that. All we can do is provide the tools and the support.

1. Principles of learning

The list below, of ways people learn, inquire and engage with new and evolving knowledge and skills, in some ways represents a transitional state of learning from child centred learning (pedagogy) to adult centred learning (andragogy). This is not a definitive list or a set of immutable rules. It does, however make some interesting points about some of the ways we learn.  Have a look at the list, and see if any of the key underpinning concepts strike a chord with the way you learn. Are there perhaps different ways of learning, depending on the situation or context you are in? What behaviours and actions will you need to initiate in order to get the most out of this online programme?

Seven Principles of Learning
  1.  Learning with understanding is facilitated when new and existing knowledge is structured around the major concepts and principles of the discipline.
  2.  Learners use what they already know to construct new understandings.
  3.  Learning is facilitated through the use of metacognitive strategies that identify, monitor, and regulate cognitive processes.
  4.  Learners have different strategies, approaches, patterns of abilities, and learning styles that are a function of the interaction between their heredity and their prior experiences.
  5. Learners’ motivation to learn and sense of self affects what is learned, how much is learned, and how much effort will be put into the learning process.
  6. The practices and activities in which people engage while learning shape what is learned.
  7. Learning is enhanced through socially supported interactions.

Reference: Committee on Programs for Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in American High Schools, N.R.C. 2002, Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools, The National Academies Press.

2. Being an online learner

There’s a lot of guidance online about how to be an effective online learner. Here are two videos you may find useful when considering being an online learner.

Denise Comer (a Course Director at Duke University) provides her perspective on how to be a successful online learner and get the most out of a course.

Below is a light-hearted look at how some learner expectations of online learning can be unrealistic. It provides ideas on how to be successful as an online learner, and what to avoid. From the University of Huston, Office of Educational Technology.

NB: Greenwich uses Moodle (not Blackboard) as its Virtual Learning Environment, and we recommend you allocate 4-6 hours per week as study time.

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