Post by Christina Burken, Technology Specialist for eLo
We keep moving forward opening new doors,
and doing new things, because we're curious
and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
On my educational journey, I made an important discovery. I LOVE online learning! Who knew? But, when I joined my first online class, I felt like an explorer, who set out on a journey to some unknown land. I was excited to be there, but I had this sinking feeling of being too far from home with no breadcrumbs! You know the feeling, the “what have I done?” feeling, which gives rise to the "what do I do now?" feeling. The first day of class I thought I can’t see anyone in my class. Huh? Whaaa? The teacher wants me to work in groups with people I have never met face-to-face? What about my teacher? What if I have questions for my teacher? How do I find her desk after class?
Guess what? It turns out; the journey was WAY easier than I thought! And it was WAY better than I thought. In the student lounge, my classmates posted about themselves and at my leisure I was able to read about them. I could really get a sense of them through their interests, their areas of expertise, their families, their funny photos, etc. I think I can safely say that I know more about each of them than I would have learned in the traditional class setting. Through our discussion posts, I learned even more about their styles.
But perhaps my most important realization during my online learning experiences was that learning is MY journey! It is all up to me! I own it. What do I mean by that? Of course, learning is up to me, but it became crystal clear in the online environment. I was freed up and empowered by being able to find my syllabus or the latest assignment from anywhere with a smart phone, iPad or computer. The one-stop shop of a learning management system took away my anxiety about remembering where I put my syllabus the first day. Oh yeah, I just remembered! I put it in my red folder because I couldn't find the blue one! No more worries about missing an announcement that the teacher made during class or changes to the assignment because it was right there in my learning management system. And, if I didn’t understand what the teacher was saying in a lecture, I could review the reading materials and then listen to or watch the lecture again and again until it really sunk into my brain.
What about the interaction of a traditional classroom? Not only did I interact with my classmates in group work, but I also could take my time and read through their discussion posts thoroughly. The great insights and ideas I took from their posts really spurred my creativity and sharpened my critical thinking skills.
And what about questions for the teacher? My teachers knew how important communication was to student success, and I would find I was receiving a personalized response to my questions within a day. Or I could post a question to my class on the class bulletin board for a quick answer from other students. I also gained a sense of community with my fellow students as they posted questions for the class on things not related to the classroom. Does anyone have a home for a puppy? Does anyone know anything about mountain bikes?
I am so thrilled to join the eLo Team as a Technology Specialist, because I know how great online learning can be! I know that eLo students have a great opportunity to own their learning. And I know, "it's their journey!"