Students now have access to thousands of online courses from institutions across the globe, whether it is a niche subject or something as broad as business. However, institutions are finding that more and more students are dropping out of online courses due to the lack of interaction. In comparison to a class where students are surrounded by peers everyday, the experience of online learning can often be presented as an isolating process. However, it is important to note that online learning itself requires students to be more proactive and therefore the interaction is something that must also be sought out.
The internet is a pool of resources both for information and interaction. With the introduction of countless social media platforms, there are now online communities that can help to foster and facilitate learning. Whilst traditional education promises a classroom full of students and face-to-face interaction with a teacher, online learning offers platforms where students are able to participate in discussions and be a part of a wider and global community. Online education for learners does not have to be void of interaction. Students have the resources to ask questions and provide support to one another, with instructors available in just a few clicks. This accessibility differs from traditional education because students do not have to wait for office hours to see an instructor and can instead contact them instantly via email. They also have the option of posting their questions in a discussion board or on a social media platform where they are able to receive answers quicker than they would be provided in a regular education.
By having the capacity to ask more questions and interact with working professionals from all over the world, students are able to facilitate their own learning process. Online learning places the emphasis on the student to seek out a wider community instead of being presented with a classroom. This not only means that there is no forced interaction but that the students can build stronger bonds throughout the period of their course. There are also countless instructional videos circulating the internet, presenting opportunities to collaborate with students from all over the world.
Although students often find that they cannot quickly ask the instructor a question in the middle of a class or confer with someone in real-time, social media emulates this form of communication and allows students to quickly converse through online chat in order to clarify information when learning. This real-time interaction is integral to the process because it is often in the midst of discussion that ideas are sparked. Therefore, if students make the effort to seek out a platform where they are able to ask questions, online education can often be more enriching than the conventional route of learning.
Another concern that some students have is their overall lack of motivation or encouragement when not being surrounded by their peers. They often find themselves yearning for a sense of belonging, and so seeking out a role in a wider community is essential. Students have to be responsible for pursuing this form of interaction because online education for learners does not have to be a solitary process. There are study groups and countless interactive tools that can be utilised. In fact, an online education can be a more interactive and far less intimidating approach than that of being in a classroom. By allowing students to share their learning and ask questions without the fear of a time constraint, there is more space to develop ideas and a deeper understanding of subjects.
With technology itself contributing to the way that we absorb information and interact with other people, it has proven to be a successful way of emulating the dynamics of a classroom and it is therefore up to the students to both create and pursue a means of communication that works for them. Online education can be just as interactive if approached correctly.