Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Successful Distance Learning

Yesterday I made a presentation to the senior management team at Payserv on some of my experiences on EDCMOOC which I started in late January this year, was told it would be of five weeks duration and 3-5 hours a week, then found it was more like 20-25 hours a week and now in more in recent days I have discovered that although the course is officially over and I have achieved a 'pass' from my peers, it looks more like the course may never end! 

Well, perhaps that is what real learning is all about?

During the course of my EDCMOOC one of the subjects that we discussed in one of the threads to which I contributed, was the question of what makes a MOOCer and more fundamentally, what makes a successful MOOCer.

In 2010 I attended a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) with an organisation in the UK where I was required to learn a myriad of administrative policies, procedures and tasks.  I was alone inasmuch as anyone else who had attended the course was now long past completing it and qualified.  My mentor was 6,000 miles away and not all that easy to talk to.  One of the early statements I read from the organisers about the requirements of distance learning read as follows: -

"Successful distance learning, particularly on-line, requires the learner to have certain characteristics, in order to fully engage in the learning process.  These are academic and emotional maturity; specific gaols; the ability to work alone; the capacity for self starting; self understanding and self motivation; persistence, patience; self confidence; read and writing ability; contacts who can help with content problems; and an academic support system (at home and at work)".

On releflecting on these attributes and considering comments of my EDCMOOC 'threaders' I have some new thoughts about this broad statement of requirements.

My co-threader suggested that all these attributes were the requirements of anyone learning to do anything anywhere with or without a teacher, on-line or in the classroom.  Her thoughts made me think some more on the list.  I think she was largely correct but one thing I have learned over the years is that a good present teacher who can encourage her present learners and provide emotional support can help some learners overcome some of the attributes in the list.  

But distance learning, particularly on-line requires most definitely the following:   Specific goals; the ability to work alone; the capacity for self-starting, contacts who can help with content problems (co-threaders in our case); family support (my wife wondered if I was married to the Internet but refrained from mentioning it until much later).

Most importantly, on-line learners need to be persistent and patient.

1 comment:

  1. Good insights Dave. I'm glad we connected through the voicethread.