Online Distance Learning critiques

According to Anderson’s, Towards a Theory of Online Learning (2008), students value the freedom and independence that online learning provides. I have to admit that while I extensively explore the Internet researching different ideas and articles that interest me, online learning is not the style I prefer.

I like connection to my fellow students and immediacy in our communication. I get a better sense of what is being said by body language and tone of voice and can respond accordingly. If clarification of a response is needed, it is more efficient to communicate in person. Tone and context are important in meaningful communication; over the web, misunderstandings often happen and they may be difficult to resolve. Witness all the posts to our D2L site trying to clarify what the actual requirements are for our online learning class posts. I still don’t think there is any consensus on what we’re supposed to be doing.

There is also the problem with feeling that my link to the Internet has become more of a ball-and-chain and less a tether. Posting a question or response — and then having to wait for a response — can take hours or days, if one is even forthcoming. It requires checking in often and sometimes to several different email accounts and websites for answers.

And for those of us who have a life based in real-time, online learning takes a lot of time and effort. I work a full-time job, sit on several committees, volunteer, garden, work with immigrants and refugees, and have a family. If I had a campus-based class, I would block out the time, attend the class and arrange any meetings necessary according to my availability. I don’t have time to keep checking the computer for updates.

This is my rantings for now — more to come later as I explore the world of online learning…

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