Supporting students with online learning
In recent decades, approaches to many forms of online distance learning have evolved rapidly as educators have tested and explored the realisation that:
"online networked technologies have the potential for knowledge construction (not just information dissemination)" (Salmon, 2011: 49)
But when we're under pressure to ‘deliver teaching’ online there is a risk that we (both teachers and students) may over-emphasise the importance of content and materials at the expense of knowledge construction, social learning, the development of disciplinary skills and attributes, and other higher-order learning goals. These, of course, are not to be abandoned just because teaching and learning engagements have moved online, but students need additional scaffolded support to enable them to engage effectively in active, social and collaborative online learning.
In this guidance, we explore the needs of learners and how we can best support them as they adapt to the challenges and opportunities of online learning and teaching. We might view this in terms of three broadly sequential, but inevitably interconnected and overlapping ‘phases’ of learning support: access and motivation, online socialisation and knowledge construction.
How can we support students for online learning?
It is important for us to consider when we teach remotely, there is a risk that students might feel like their online space is being encroached upon by their teachers and peers, as the line between students' online private lives and their online university lives becomes blurred. This risk can be mitigated by attempting to understand how your students, and you, engage in various online spaces.
For learning based on social-constructivist principles to really flourish, member of your community need to feel confident as independent learners, contributors and collaborators. This is true whether learning takes place in physical or online spaces. Our students need additional scaffolded support to enable them to engage effectively in active, social and collaborative online learning.