Social Aspects of Online Learning
By David Madison
The number of people studying online – whether it's for an individual course, a career upgrade, or an entire degree – continues to grow as technology allows for better distance learning techniques. The great thing about online learning is the flexibility: depending on the type of course you take, most e-learners will have the opportunity to personalize their program and work at the speed that suits them best. Further, after the initial output for equipment, online learning tends to be much less expensive than traditional campus based schooling.
Online learning is great for those who prefer to study independently, or who are working full time or caring for children and don't have the time or opportunity to attend a campus school. However, the other side of this coin is that e-learners often feel isolated from their school and fellow students. Angela MacArthur, editor of onlinelearning101.com, explains, "It can be incredibly difficult to work through an entire degree without the support of an academic community that understands the process and the obstacles. Students can be left feeling unsupported and unconnected – despite their constant online access to school facilities."
However, there are many ways that online learners can avoid that lonely feeling:
• Look for courses that involve group learning. If you have to maintain contact with fellow students in order to complete assignments, you're more likely to make the effort to do so frequently. Make sure you get the phone numbers of some of your classmates so that you're not left relying on email or instant messaging to speak to someone. When it comes to connecting, you'd be surprised how important it is to hear an actual voice once in a while.
• Take advantage of the diversity offered in an online environment. Find out where your fellow classmates are from. You might find some friends with a drastically different point of view if you take the time to get to know some of the other students. One of the great things about online learning is its accessibility – you might find people from different countries, who speak different languages, or simply live a different type of lifestyle.
• If possible, connect with your instructor. Most online instructors are trained specifically in online learning techniques and will be able to help you not only succeed in your course, but in the online environment in general. As well, the more people you're directly in contact with the less you'll feel separated from the school experience.
• Join an online learners' community or forum. You're not limited to fellow classmates, or even students involved in a similar course of study. Whether you're working towards a degree, taking an interest course, or upgrading your career skills, you'll be experiencing situations similar to others who are taking the time to learn online. Members of a forum may not be able to help you with homework questions, but they can certainly empathize with what you're going through.
• Get out! You're incredibly busy right now, with studying, work, family and all the everyday things that crop up. Make sure that you don't end up scheduling yourself to oblivion, and leave yourself some time to get out and socialize. Meet with some friends, join a gym, even go for a walk at your local dog park and chat with the regulars. Just make sure that you're not spending every waking moment staring at a computer.
About the Author
David Madison is a regular contributor to onlinelearning101.com – a highly informative and authoritative website specializing in online educational resources, such as Online Associate Degrees,Language Schools, and more.
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