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Challenging Characteristics of Online Learning

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Challenging characteristics of online learning and ways of addressing them (COVER PAGE) 1 Table of Contents Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………3 Five different challenging characteristics of online learning …………………………….3 (1) Technical competencies required of students …………………………………….3 (2) Issues of accessibilit …………………………………………………………….! (3) Time commitments required of instructors ………………………………………! (!) The need for self motivation ……………………………………………………..# (#) Issues of isolation and lea
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    Challenging characteristics of online learningand ways of addressing them(COVER PAGE) 1  Table of Contents Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………3Five different challenging characteristics of online learning …………………………….3(1)Technical competencies required of students …………………………………….3(2)Issues of accessibilit …………………………………………………………….!(3)Time commitments required of instructors ………………………………………!(!)The need for self motivation ……………………………………………………..#(#)Issues of isolation and learning stle ……………………………………………..#$uggestions to improve the learning e%perience of online learners ……………………...&'onclusion ………………………………………………………………………………..eference list ……………………………………………………………………………..* Introduction 2  +nline learning ma be defined as learning that ta,es place based on a -ide spectrum of technologies via the -eb to reach a net-or, of learners for such purposes as encouraginglearner interaction and certification of learning (reenberg/ 1**0 alloff  ratt/ 1***).Features of online learning that ma,e it different from the more traditional4 form of learningare man. For e%ample/ online learning frees students from the necessit of travelling to 5afi%ed place … to meet a fi%ed person/ in order to be trained6 (7eegan/ 1**#/ p. 8). That is/ itsaves students from the trouble of having to travel to the classroom and et at the same timeallo-s them to be able to learn at their o-n pace because of its asnchronous nature(7eeng-e  7idd/ 2919). +nline learning also proves to be a cost and time effective modeof pursuing a course or programme of stud since travel e%penses and the time required totravel are eliminated (:eans et al./ 299*). erhaps most importantl/ online learning provideseducational opportunities for those -ho could not or -ould not other-ise obtain them for reasons such as life or -or, commitments ($tone  erumean 'hane/ 2911). ;hile there are clear benefits of online learning/ there are challenges to be addressed too-hen one considers online learning. The purpose of this report is to discuss some of thesechallenging characteristics of online learning and suggest -as to over them. The report first begins -ith a discussion of five challenging characteristics of online learning beforeconsidering suggestions put for-ard b researchers in the area of online education to addressthese challenges. Five different challenging characteristics of online learning There are at least five challenging characteristics of online learning. The are (1) technicalcompetencies required of students/ (2) issues of accessibilit/ (3) time commitments requiredof instructors/ (!) the need for self motivation and (#) issues of isolation and learning stle.<ach of these characteristics -ill be revie-ed and discussed as follo-s.(1)Technical competencies required of students$tudents enrolling in an online lesson not onl need to master the course4s sub=ect matter butalso have to possess the technical s,ills to participate in the course and stud effectivel (see$ong et al./ 299!). This ma still represent a technical challenge for man students. There isan assumption that all students gro- up -ith technolog and ,no- it. In fact/ students displaa great spectrum of abilities and comfort levels -ith computers. > lac, of confidence ande%perience -ith computers continue to be a challenge facing online learning students/ man 3  of -hom are -or,ing adults -ho are still not quite as prepared for the technolog e%perience.<ven students -ho are comfortable using a computer might not possess all the necessars,ills. For instance/ research has sho-n that students ma be computer savv/ but notnecessaril computer literate (?i%on et al./ 299#). The ,no- about computer and the can pla the games -ell/ but man still are una-are of the range of features of the ;ord or <%cel.This inhibits their effective use of the online learning e%perience. (2)Issues of accessibilit @ot ever student o-ns a computer. :an students still need the institutional learningresource centres for computer access/ creating something of a digital divide among thestudent population. The access level differs for students -ho must use the computer labversus those -ho can -or, all hours in their room. @ot ever computer lab possesses thesame technolog. >s students gain technical proficienc/ an emerging problem is access tohigher end tools/ and the number of students -ho use them is gro-ing and there is thus anincreasing demand for more computer labs/ -hich is not often possible.<ven students using mainstream applications encounter technical problems. > common problem is slo-er dial up speeds at home/ especiall in rural areas. These students cannotta,e courses effectivel unless instructors scale bac, course activities accordingl. These problems -ith student access to technolog sometimes contribute to instructor perceptionsthat students have -ea, technolog s,ills. Aut often -hat is the case is that man of thesestudents do not have access -ith enough band-idth to use the online facilities effectivel.That is/ access to the Internet itself is not al-as reliable and this becomes particularl problematic -hen the learning involves the use of video streaming.(3)Time commitments required of instructors/ -ith the resulting delaed feedbac, +ne ma=or challenge for instructors involved in online learning is the amount of timerequired to develop and maintain an online learning course/ -hich sometimes results in delain providing the e%pected feedbac, (Bara  7ling/ 1***). There are t-o ,e underlingreasons for this time burden. First/ instructors need to rethin, and fundamentall restructureonline learning classes. In man cases/ instructors spend substantial time and effortreengineering the course to adapt it for online deliver. This represents a significant amountof added effort for instructors/ because man have fine tuned their pedagogical approach for  4

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