Whilst the flexibility of online study is appealing, the idea of it being an isolating experience can often deter students from opting for the route of online learning. When traditional education promises a classroom filled with peers, UK online learning is sometimes presented as a lone student being confined to their computer screen. However, if proactive, online study can in fact be a more interactive experience than that of a classroom.
Students can often find themselves missing the daily interaction with their peers, however, with the presence of online communities, this is now possible. Instructors often create groups across social media platforms where they post relevant material and also encourage interaction amongst students. This not only allows you to contact other students but helps to provide you with a support system. By aiding and facilitating each other, this role in an online community can emulate being in a classroom. It allows quick communication as well as being able to remain up-to-date with announcements and resources. Platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp make it possible for students to work together which can be helpful for students that find that they excel in groups.
Interact in real-time
Whilst these online communities help to bring people together and act as a source of encouragement throughout the student’s education, platforms such as Skype allow face-to-face interaction and can be especially useful when attempting to problem-solve or discuss a task. The development of such platforms has revolutionised online study by allowing direct contact with others. In a classroom, students often discuss assignments and sometimes work together to comprehend concepts which is something that can be difficult to convey through text across an online chat.
Working together also helps to spark new ideas and can be particularly helpful when one party may be struggling. However, real-time interaction allows students to emulate conversations that would take place in a classroom. Retaining this sense of community is important for UK online learning because students find that they do not want to continually be emailing instructors with questions but still require support.
Whilst interacting with others can be helpful, it is often in the process of completing tasks or reading material that students may struggle the most. Without a person next to them that they can turn to for help, the process of writing out an email to an instructor can sometimes feel daunting. However, there are several other ways in which your learning experience can be interactive for example through participating in discussion boards. These allow student participation and discussion, which is similar to something that would take place in a classroom. However, student’s often find that they can be more open with ideas online than they would in a classroom because they do not have a time-constraint or are less concerned about their ideas not having validity. Discussion boards are often structured and allow students to think about and formulate their thoughts before sharing them. This not only helps them to hone their focus and thought process but also ensures that they are adding value to the discussion.
Education is often focused on the roles of student and teacher, where the position of other students is often overlooked. However, it is often this peer-to-peer interaction that contributes to a student’s learning because it is through gaining other perspectives that they sometimes make sense of their own understanding. Whilst online study may seemingly appear to be a solitary experience, it can in fact be more interactive and is therefore dependent on the student being proactive and seeking a role within an online community.