What are the different types of online learning?
This is the first of three chapters about Studying Online. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Introduce the concept of online learning at the university level
– Explore four scenarios in which students may be expected to study online, such as blended and hybrid courses
– Complete the Lesson 1 Worksheet to check progress
Although the idea of studying online can be an unsettling prospect for many students, this type of learning (accelerated by the events of COVID-19) is now common place in educational institutions around the world. Many students may feel nervous or unprepared for their first class because they’ll have spent almost all of their education in the familiarity of a classroom, under the careful supervision of a tutor. But while participating in online classes and engaging in discussions with peers through platforms such as Teams, Zoom, or Tencent may seem unnerving at first, most students come to enjoy this more autonomous method of learning and soon appreciate the benefits of their new educational environment.
To assist you with your transition to online, blended or hybrid learning, we explore the different scenarios for online studying (Chapter 1), the challenges to expect when studying online (Chapter 2), and the top tips for ensuring remote-learning success (Chapter 3). By completing these three chapters and their related chapter worksheets, you should feel more confident and comfortable when beginning your programme of study in a digital classroom. Let’s begin by first discussing the most common online scenarios in which you may soon be learning.
Scenario 1: Library Research
The first and foremost type of online study that all students are expected to participate in is research. Though this somewhat depends on the source types your assignments require (textbook, journal, etc.), the vast majority of resources for students are now accessible online. While physical libraries still exist, these spaces are increasingly being prioritised as study areas that allow for comfortable access to digital resources via the institutional library platform. To succeed at a bachelor’s degree or beyond, all university students, no matter their course type, should work to develop confident research skills, mastering how to read, take notes and develop essays and presentations effectively using digital technology.
Scenario 2: Blended Materials
In addition to conducting research online, both undergraduate and postgraduate courses are increasingly making use of online software and technology to make their modules and materials more dynamic and to better encourage student-led learning. Courses or lessons that contain a mixture of both online and offline study are described as being blended. A blended module will usually have:
- almost all instruction delivered as tutor-led seminars and lectures
- most self-study and homework tasks completed online (using videos, forum discussions, review quizzes and other online techniques)
- many assignments completed digitally, with a strong preference for typed text over handwriting
- some online correspondence, whether over email or in dedicated learning forums
- some supplementary online activities, hosted on a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) such as Moodle or Blackboard
Scenario 3: Hybrid Classes
The exact definition of hybrid learning varies. In a hybrid course, a student may be expected to complete up to 50% of the course material online (with the other 50% being face-to-face) or there may simply be online students joining the on-campus lectures and seminars via webcam, microphone and a stable internet connection. If you find you have peers online in your class – perhaps trapped abroad because of COVID-19, be aware that these students would greatly appreciate a little extra effort from their on-campus classmates in making friends. Your tutor may also need extra support as managing online and offline students together can be tricky!
Scenario 4: Online Courses
Finally, students may choose to enrol onto courses that are delivered entirely online with no on-campus components. There are many reasons for choosing a fully online course. It may be because online courses are generally cheaper, because travel to campus may be restricted or challenging, or because studying remotely allows students (particularly mature students) the opportunity to continue working full time to fund their studies. In a fully online course, students can expect:
- a part-time course, generally longer than its face-to-face counterpart
- synchronous ‘live’ interactions with tutors and peers via webcams and microphones
- asynchronous ‘delayed’ input using recorded lectures
- the use of software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams
- frequent discussion topics and forums to encourage peer-to-peer interactions
- online quizzes, homework submissions and coursework assignments
- clear instructions that guide students through each step of the course
Now that you have an overview of the different contexts in which students might study online, Chapter 2 next explores the challenges that you may encounter and provides advice on how to overcome them in this unique learning environment. Continue reading to find out more.
There are currently no PowerPoint activities, additional teacher resources or audio and video recordings created for this topic. Please come back again next semester.
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