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Many online learners are bombarded with so many resources
that we tend to ‘data harvest'
"What makes a good online learner?" Someone asked me
this question recently at an industry networking event. (It made me
wonder how many class-based teachers are asked what does it take to be
a good face-to-face learner?)
That point aside, I'd recommend checking out this article by
Edudemic, which looks at skills for both online students and teachers.
It contains some great ideas including time management, connectedness
and the need to have some basic computing skills. I haven't reworked
their list, but instead I've looked at the integration of online study
and the skill challenges this can pose for new students.
The amount of information available online now is unprecedented. We
view web pages differently to how we read offline text. Basically, the
pattern for viewing
a web page is like a capital F. We start at the top and read the
heading, then down a bit further, and view another bold heading.
Finally, we scan down the left side of the page. If none of that is
appealing, we move on to a new page or site. We've developed these new
reading skills with such gusto that reverting to deeper reading is
challenging. Constant web links that serve to distract and entice us
don't exactly help, either. My tip: read the whole page or article
first, then go back and re-read and click through the links.
Pop up ads. Scrolling advertisements. Banners. Subliminal messages.
These are the price of admission to the online world. Meanwhile, our
lounge rooms have massive screens that frequently claim our attention.
And then there are our ever-present gadgets and devices. And who else
has noticed the number of apps that come with settings that include
push reminders when you haven't visited the site in a day or two and
have ‘never power-down' modes? The constantly connected student needs
to master self-control.
Synthesising is the drawing of information from multiple sources. And
quickly. Many online learners are bombarded with so many
resources that we tend to ‘data harvest'. This means the analysis of
credibility and accuracy may only take a few moments before a source
is determined as being worthy or not. There are some great librarians
and teachers who can assist with students' data harvesting skills.
So if you're thinking of studying online, go for it! Good online
courses will support students to develop these and many other skills.
TAFE NSW has plenty of online study options and many skilled teachers
and online facilitators who are ready to help you find out what it takes.