Let’s face it--online education has gotten kind of a bad reputation over the past ten years. It’s one of those ideas that’s great in theory but is difficult to implement well. For years, I used an online learning platform to administer remedial classes during the first four weeks of summer. During these four weeks, students would show up to my classroom and work independently on modules that were, allegedly, the equivalent of a year’s worth of class.
Now, I'm sure many of you are thinking, “Wow that can’t possibly be fair.” Which brings me to pitfall number one:
Most eLearning curricula aren’t nearly as rigorous as an in-class experience.
Assessments are almost entirely content-based, and, often exclusively multiple choice. Or as I like to call it, “multiple guess.” Moreover, when a student retakes a failed assessment, the questions often appear in the same order, with the same answer choices. Let me put it this way, it doesn’t take an IQ of 140 to figure out how to game the system. My job title may as well have been changed to “quiz-resetter.” What’s worse is that unless a student was working on an English or Biology course, I couldn’t provide any tutoring or remediation. Right on queue, here’s pitfall number two.
Teachers who proctor eLearning classes aren’t well versed in the content.
Even if students started their four week endeavor with hopes of learning and achieving (and, yes, some of them did), their hopes were dashed when they found that there were very few avenues to seek help if and when the content was challenging. They had a few options. They could ask a friend, or they could google a topic. On my end, I had very few resources to offer any assistance. So if those methods failed, the ‘ol screenshot and reset method was the only way to go--especially since so many of them were pressed for time. And on top of that, here’s pitfall number three.
eLearning is… well.. usually pretty (boring).
Learning is not boring. People are naturally curious and inquisitive. School is boring. And, even more often, online school is boring. Why? Because most eLearning platforms are glorified textbooks, digital remnants of a time when learning was transactional. In an era where knowledge is free and readily accessible, it’s time to step up our eLearning game. Learning was meant to be done in community! We construct meaning collaboratively. Feedback--from HUMANS--is important.
At Nova, our passion is learning and our specialty is eLearning. We have been personally offended by the lack of ingenuity offered by our competitors. Our curricula are standards-aligned and customizable. They take the lift off of teachers without removing them from the equation. Most importantly, our curricula allow students to grow together--whether they’re sharing a physical space or not. We’re reimagining the digital landscape of education.