What is Online Learning?


Online learning is not new; the category encompasses any learning that takes place through web-based platforms, whether formal or informal. The learning can be structured like as in traditional courses or entirely self-paced. What has made the topic new is the recent and unprecedented focus on providing learning via the Internet that has been stimulated by the tremendous interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). What is new in this space is that online learning has “come of age;” the design of online learning is (more and more) specifically intended to encompass the latest research, the most promising developments, and new emerging business models in the online learning environment. At many institutions, online learning is an area newly ripe for experimentation — some would argue it is undergoing a sea change, with every dimension of the process open for reconceptualization. On campuses around the globe, virtually every aspect of how students connect with institutions and each other to learn online is being reworked, rethought, and redone — but it will be some time yet before ideas coalesce enough to be validated by research and implemented broadly.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Online learning is useful for school libraries and the improvement of learning across the school because it enables teachers to engage in formal and recognized learning networks. Educators can engage in reasonably priced (and free with MOOCs!) online professional development as offered by Harvard's Project Zero http://www.pz.harvard.edu/ or Global Online Academy http://www.globalonlineacademy.org/. The pacing and content of these courses are designed for educators to try new practices in their classrooms and then share the learning results with their online cohort. The improvement in student learning can be significant. International schools are using online learning platforms such as Teamie https://theteamie.com/ and Google Classroom https://classroom.google.com/u/0/h to deliver instruction, assessment, and feedback to students. These platforms have the digital agility to be used as online classes when school is canceled for emergencies. - kurt.wittig kurt.wittig Nov 4, 2015
  • Agreed with what Kurt says above. Some of the best impacts of online learning include collaborative opportunities between students and easy interaction between students and teachers for coaching and assessment purposes. Other tools being used in international schools include Moxtra http://www.moxtra.com/and Teacher Dashboard http://hapara.com/ when paired with Google Apps. - janice.dwyer janice.dwyer Nov 6, 2015
  • This comes in most handy when schools have closures for various reasons. - brian.duffy brian.duffy Nov 8, 2015
  • Online learning can allow students to have access to courses and subject options that they otherwise would not be able to study. Schools that have limited subject offerings, for example, can have students study a language that they don't have teachers for. - tommi.svinhufvud tommi.svinhufvud Nov 8, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?


(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • The impact will be improved instruction and for schools that adopt online classes as an alternative for students, greater flexibility in higher level topics secondary students which to study. Students are able to take courses not offered at their school. Issues to be considered are validating the acceptable rigor of an online course if students are going to receive credit toward their diploma. Another issue to consider is time in front of a screen. Online courses put users in front of screens for additional hours every week and if the content is not communicated effectively, the participants spend extra time figuring out what is expected in assignments.- kurt.wittig kurt.wittig Nov 4, 2015
  • As students mature, they can tailor their own learning to best reflect where their interests lie. - brian.duffy brian.duffy Nov 8, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Both campuses at United World College South East Asia use Teamie as our online learning platform. Schools in Singapore were closed on September 25th due to excessive haze conditions. UWCSEA classes were able to continue unimpeded with teachers using the online platform as the mode of classroom learning.- kurt.wittig kurt.wittig Nov 4, 2015
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