Online learning has asked students to change.

Written by Staff Writer

November 25, 2021

For its success, online learning relies on the students’ ability to make sense of a digital experience, that often takes place in isolation. Many students found themselves learning alone online for the first time, following the onset of the COVID pandemic. They have had to take charge of their learning, engage in lots of communication, often on many platforms and befriend digital learning artefacts and resources.

The students own ability to stay self-motivated, regulate their study schedules, engage in reflective thinking and develop a positive attitude to learning and being a student, are more important than ever and pose a significant challenge to the success of online learning.

What can be done to optimise the factors that make online learning successful from the student’s perspective? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about engaging content, it is much more multifaceted and complex than just the design of the online material. Even the best instructional design may not be clicked open, the most well-presented and up-beat microlearning glossed over and the snappy “test to learn” experiences ignored.

While it would be convenient to deal only with a single factor influencing student behaviour, i.e. instructional content, it is necessary to view online learning as an experience that is significantly more complex, multifaceted, and context bound and one that is impacted by much more than just content design. Design in this context means the consideration of the full range of student touch points.

This means asking deeper questions: What are the drivers of student learning and deep engagement even before they start their online learning? What are the contextual and psychological factors? How do students stay motivated in a sustained manner using technology? What is it that will most impact student’s learning self-efficacy, sense of personal significance, motivation, and ultimately learning? What returns on learning will keep students on track?

Zhou, Chai, Jong and Xiong used self-determination theory and a social perspective as a framework to investigate how a feeling of connection with instructors and cohort peers influenced online learning. They analysed data from 572 undergraduate students from a teacher education university in Southwest China, and found that feeling connected had effects on learning success and satisfaction and influenced how well students self-regulated their online learning. They conclude that instructors can promote students learning by building a learning community and designing collaborative learning activities.

While we know that being self-directed is important and we already design for motivation, we also need to design for collaborative activities and intentionally build the self-efficacy of students.

Design in this context also means asking how each touch point with students encourages and equips them to be more independent, motivated and collaborative.

At CPS the student experience is considered from enrolment to the learning experience to delivery and graduation. We even have specific modules available for students on building personal effectiveness. All the support that is offered across the learning value chain is aimed at building self-directed, motivated learners who are given multiple opportunities to collaborate and connect with facilitators, tutors, peers and a support and logistics system all aligned in enabling sustained student success. That is how we #Change Tomorrow

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