Another dot in the blogosphere?

Mistakes with online learning

Posted on: February 26, 2015

The trigger for this reflection was a newspaper article that reported Singapore employers’ reactions to embed learners in workplaces for authentic experiences.

One employer, citing support from government subsidies, said this: “The subsidies can also go towards helping us to create self-learning tools such as online learning programmes”.

If you have a decent idea on how “online learning programmes” are practised in industry and even in higher education, you know that they are far from desirable or ideal.

I know because a significant amount of my work life revolved around online and e-learning. Heck, I was in charge of a centre for e-learning not too long ago.

I have seen more bad practices than good ones. When designing or assigning online learning, the worst ones were and still are:

  • Starting with a perspective that there is no difference between online teaching and online learning
  • Attempts to simply but unsuccessfully replicate face-to-face presence
  • Not blending and dedicating face time with co-learners and/or more knowledgeable others
  • Using online learning as a blunt tool to solve all ills
  • Not questioning the one-size-fits-all approach
  • Assuming a fire-and-forget mentality
  • Not connecting the online with the offline or larger purpose

The mistakes are repeated because people do not learn from them. Sometimes they do not learn from them because they do not think that they have made mistakes.

I have listed a few from a host of many mistakes. These are the sort of mistakes that are not worth making because they keep administrators and instructors thinking they have done their jobs while leaving learners frustrated.

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