There are several advantages of online learning, including cost, commute (or lack thereof), and flexibility, not to mention the fact that you can attend class in your pjs. However, online learning can create a feeling of isolation – if you let it. Check out this list of online learning tips for things that CSU OnlinePlus is doing and things you can do to make your online learning experience more personal.
1. Social Media Channels
We are working hard to build communities for our online students through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Check out our pages, engage, tweet, like, +1, and most importantly interact with one another! We’re designing our social media venues as a way for our students to share with their peers and with prospective students, so take advantage!
2. Discussion Groups
Most online courses have this element built in and probably required of students through Blackboard. Usually a teacher will post a discussion topic and online students are able to post comments and insight regarding the topic. Utilize this “required participation;” it’s a great way to stay connected and take your conversations past the classroom. If use of Blackboard isn’t required by a particular course, do it voluntarily! All online students at CSU have an account.
3. On-Campus Graduation Luncheon
Yes, it requires an investment of time and money from you as a student, especially if you’re located somewhere outside of the region, but attending the in-person graduation ceremonies and the luncheon is really something to consider. Completing your degree is a huge accomplishment, and that definitely deserves to be recognized! Graduation is your opportunity to meet, face-to-face, fellow classmates and their families, faculty, and the OnlinePlus staff. In addition, you get to walk down that aisle in your cap and gown with your head proudly held high to collect the fruit of your labor!
And here are some ideas I pulled from a blog I found on OnlineUniversities.com:
4. Being “real”
Sitting behind a computer, it can be difficult to identify with other students as real, especially if they only know you as a screen name and your written words. But, by opening up and sharing more, online students can see each other as classmates to interact with. Sharing photos, interests, even linking to Facebook and LinkedIn make it easy to connect as a real person and add a human feel to your online learning experience.
5. Coworking spaces
Doing schoolwork at home or even in a coffee shop, while being one of the benefits of online learning, might feel a little isolated. Many cities offer an interesting alternative: coworking spaces. In these spaces, students, entrepreneurs, and telecommuters can work side by side, enjoying camaraderie and a lively place to get things done. Often, collaboration and social interaction is encouraged, giving students a great opportunity to enjoy the benefits of online school with the face-to-face experience of coworking.
6. Group projects
Yep, they exist in the online world too! Using online collaboration tools, students can come together to complete projects and presentations as a group, while at the same time enjoying a high level of interaction.
7. Document sharing
Document sharing may sound like an opportunity for students to skip class and just use classmates’ notes, but with encouragement, this tool can be used to foster interaction and discussion between students who study online. As they compare notes, students are able to better share and understand the material.
What other ideas can you share with us as ways to make the online learning experience more like face-to-face interaction? What kinds of things would you like to see us work on for students in the future?