Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why I Love Online Learning

My first week at the amazing, lovely and vibrant UWT ended with a presentation to the faculty on - what else? - Why I Love Online Learning! Putting my cards on the table, letting them know who I am, what I do, and how I can help move new technologies into the curriculum if they love online learning too.

And how I love not only online learning, but all kinds of online learning. LMS, PLE, social, collaborative, reflective, asynchronous, hybrid, new remote communication possibilities, and more. Here, there, and in new ways of teaching and learning in the classroom.

We did a break-out after my brief #show&tell and it seems I  have collaborators and doubters. But the doubters were kind and articulate ("It's the Tacoma way!").

So, what did I tell them about WHY?

  • Not just because I'm a technology monkey ("Ooh, pretty new bright shiny object. Oh wait! Look! Another pretty new bright shiny object!") 
  • And not just because online learning has changed so much and so inventively in the last few years. 
  • And not just because the LMS has changed how quickly and strategically we can deliver consistent, quality learning experiences.

No, not just for those reasons. More importantly, for the reasons to the right. We are a nation going to college, and the new, "traditional" student is not the student of the past. The students we see today don't always love the classroom ("always" being generous here), They don't value the lecture format, don't crave text-heavy learning experiences, and don't take pride in the carefully crafted/APA format/scholarly essay. They don't live on campus, work few hours, or have time to kill.

And not many of them make it to graduation.  Students enter with high hopes,  but a recent report suggests that the US spent 4 BILLION over 5 years on community college students who dropped out the first year. It's better, but not good at the 4-year institutions. Students are going increasingly into debt ($100 billion in student debt??) just to find that they weren't prepared. Not for the cost, the rigor, the time, the effort needed. Approximately 50% of them will leave with great debt and little learning to show for it.

Something must change. WE must change. We need to use the tools and resources now available to create new learning experiences that are accessible, affordable, flexible, engaging, and relevant to the new learner (all of us, all ages, all races, all economic levels) as s/he comes to us with faith, heart, hope in hand. We can change the numbers above because we now have the tools.
And that's why I love online learning!
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