The Pivot to online learning? Supporting students as communities of learners

This useful Twitter thread from Kate Symons on advice students to engage in online learning. This is an important aspect of successful online learning and too often neglected. This neglect may be as a result of the lazy assumptions regarding the digital native. While the idea of a generational break in digital capabilities has clearly been debunked, we still often assume students are adept at using digital technologies for learning.

The advice emphasises the importance of students taking initiative in online learning. This includes resolving technical issues such as seeking alternative means of communication or access to resources. Initiative-taking also includes embracing the opportunities that online learning provides by being proactive in engaging in discussions and chat groups. Yet often, we, as educators, have undermined the development of these capabilities in providing more ‘ user-friendly’ course resources on VLEs. So we provide direct links to resources rather than asking the students to search the library databases. We also often positioned ourselves as solutions providers rather than leaving it to students to share their own solutions to issues.

In the shift to remote school work, I can see my children often contacting their friends via text messaging and Discord to resolve problems with lesson activities. These problems are often to deal with incomplete instructions, unfamiliar applications and so on (I’ve also noted how little they understand how office365 works at a basic level of saving documents, the difference between the online and desktop app etc…But that’s another story).

So, is one of the lessons from the so-called pivot to online learning that we need to give greater consideration to how we support and facilitate cohort of students to think and practice much more as communities of learners for distance and on-campus students?

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