When Online Learning Works: Student Voices

The following post is by 4th year Trent University English major, Rachel Thistle. She submitted her post as part of a massive call for posts nationwide. Rachel’s post offered a different point of view regarding online education. We hope you enjoy her post and thanks to Rachel for her excellent submission. 

On behalf of the digitalcommunitas team, 

Dr. Sara Humphreys

 

As a fourth year university student, I have experienced a wide variety of teaching styles and tech. On one side of the spectrum, is the “tech-less” classroom where the most “techy” item is the computer that remains visible but unused. Then on the other side, is the entire class completely online, what I refer to as the “so tech advanced that I got lost in the shuffle” and, subsequently, dropped the course. Now, this is not say that all tech-style of teaching is bad. No, I have had a fully-online course in my third year that did it perfectly right! I was captivated by this professor’s approach – he posted lectures online in pdf format so I could read them at my leisure. There were links to external sites, which I could us or not. This class bridged the two sides of the spectrum into something usable and compelling. It made my learning rise to the best it has been since I entered university. I reached that elusive “A” average in his course that I had not done in any other before.

And I credit all of it to the way that my professor combined technology: we blogged in forums for discussion; we received feedback on every post from the Professor – in addition, we were able to watch video and view images when we wished. and pictures. Technology allowed my professor to integrate his course to match my life.

We had the opportunity to complete a module every week or if you were running behind, catch up and complete it the next week. Or heck, if you were a head of the game you could complete two modules at a time. This model of learning allowed the student the ability to access learning in a new way. It was an integrative and informative innovation. That to this day I will always remember as the course that transcended what I thought a tech-advance course would be like into my preferred learning environment. I felt something I had never felt before…connected. The material came to life for me and understood the concepts that I was being taught. All because when I connected through my web browser to “my learning system” I was able to click on one folder and find my lecture which was compatible with my textbook. I could delve deeper and deeper into material. But most importantly I was still able to discuss it all with my fellow students and my professor. So finally I will answer the “So what?” my Professor always said needed to be answered:

I, Rachel Thistle, argue that technology was used to enhance my learning and fit into my life so perfectly that I achieved the best I could do. Ultimately, that made me feel good about learning

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