What is Online Learning?

Online learning is not new; the category encompasses any learning that takes place through web-based platforms, whether formal or informal. The learning can be structured like as in traditional courses or entirely self-paced. What has made the topic new is the recent and unprecedented focus on providing learning via the Internet that has been stimulated by the tremendous interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). What is new in this space is that online learning has “come of age;” the design of online learning is (more and more) specifically intended to encompass the latest research, the most promising developments, and new emerging business models in the online learning environment. At many institutions, online learning is an area newly ripe for experimentation — some would argue it is undergoing a sea change, with every dimension of the process open for reconceptualization. On campuses around the globe, virtually every aspect of how students connect with institutions and each other to learn online is being reworked, rethought, and redone — but it will be some time yet before ideas coalesce enough to be validated by research and implemented broadly.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • As the description mentions, Online Learning is not new. But it's an innovation that finally is making sense, at least to my previous and current international schools. As usual, necessity is the mother of invention: We want to expand our course selection far beyond the same old classes that have been offered for years, and online learning will be the way to do exactly that. Hard to find, e.g., a Japanese teacher in Guatemala. As our selection of online courses expands, we could even have kids taking an International Baccalaureate (versus AP) program online. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015
  • Interesting. It is everywhere, but done so poorly. Everyone (K-12, higher ed, medical, business, industry government) is converting current professional development into the online format. I just conducted workshops in improving online engagement for the IRS and the HHS (U.S. Government) and what can I say? Their customers hate it, because it is done so poorly. But it doesn't have to be that way. These organizations are working hard to change that. That is why every corner of every industry is dousing for ways to improve quality, retention, and engagement. That is why we created this program at our University: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/SchoolOfEducation/Academics/CPE/Learn/Certificates/Pages/OnlineTeachingCertificate.aspx
    My particular course is disruptive to the norms of online learning. But unless we address these quality issues, folks will continue to relgate this wonderful technology to the back shelves of effective practice.- len.scrogan len.scrogan Feb 16, 2015
  • As a school district we have North Star Online School is a tuition-free full-time virtual public school providing students with the flexibility to learn with a curriculum that meets rigorous state education standards. We have CANVAS for our teachers use. But we do not have CANVAS for our 65,000 student use. The cost of student use would be approximately $200,000. a year. There are no plans to purchase the student online version in the near future. Clark County (Las Vegas) and TMCC our Community College both use CANVAS. We could have a lot more cross collaboration happening if we had it available also. My point being when I heard that we did not have an online program for our students I was shocked. I do not think we are out of usual for a school district, and now I am wondering, are we? Does most of the world have online programs for students in use, ones that allow teacher/student interaction? I can research that, but I am just putting this out there that we think about online learning as not being quite as entrenched in K-12 as might be.- jmorrison jmorrison Feb 13, 2015
  • I work across K-12 and tertiary sectors. Each has its own needs regarding online learning. What I am mostly seeing is a lack of learning design where existing courses are put online with little thought as to how participants will interact with each other and create a learning community for the duration of the 'course' or 'subject'. I also run my own online courses and use a variety of tools - CANVS, Ning, Wikispaces, Google apps. I think it is important not to have all learning confined to one LMS or one platform - learners need to be versatile and work across platforms as well as integrate Web 2.0 for communication and creation of artefacts. Online learning is VERY relevant for the K-12 sector although it is hardly realised yet. Transplanting an exam-based course to an online format is, to say the least, ho-hum......being innovative and redesigning learning to join students beyond their own immediate f2f learning environment is a relatively new frontier. The ideal is for all students (and teachers) to understand how to learn in a connected and 'flat' mode that takes advantage of online connections and opportunities. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 18, 2015
  • All 50 states have polices in place to allow for online learning and we are seeing huge growth in districts developing their own programs. (it used to be only offered at the state level or in large districts) but now the technology and digital content are priced so that is more cost effective for districts to develop their own programs. Online learning gives students access to teachers and content they might not otherwise have the opportunity to have. Some programs and content are interactive and engaging while others still need a lot of work (just like in traditional schools.) Without online learning, we would not have blended learning, which is also a huge trend and probably more popular now and has the true potential to change our entire education system. Online learning is here to stay and providing options and access to education to all K-12 students who might not otherwise have them without it. - apowell apowell Feb 20, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Not missing, but should be: The notion that more research is needed. The time for Online Learning is not only here, it's past due. If you're still a doubter, you're a dinosaur. Or you have some ulterior motive. Maybe this is something that should be added: One of the major reasons educators still resist Online Learning is that they're afraid of losing their jobs. It's unfounded and it's holding students back. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015
  • The ability to leverage online classes to extend learning for all types of learners - from the high school over-achiever who wants to take a specific AP class that isn't offered at his/her school to a child who needs remediation or alternatives for summer school. - kstubbs kstubbs Feb 18, 2015
  • What is missing is am alternative to MOOCs, which in my opinion are not sustainable. Online learning must be personal and personalised to the learner. Smaller communities of learning are most desirable - with synchronous as well as asynchronous interactions. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 18, 2015
  • I agree, it is coming of age and every school district I know is talking seriously about it--though most are still grappling with how they might offer it to their students. I am very tired of hearing about MOOCs, however.- anton.inglese anton.inglese Feb 22, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Once everybody finally admits how fantastic Online Learning is, the potential is (virtually) unlimited. Picture a kid taking classes taught by instructors all over the world, interacting with students, etc. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015
  • Personalization that transcends limitations due to a particular school or district's offerings - kstubbs kstubbs Feb 18, 2015
  • Enormous potential to support global understanding, global competency, intercultural understanding and online collaborative learning to build skills including vocational. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 18, 2015
  • Online learning has the opportunity to allow all students the opportunity to a personalized learning experience. We just need the technology to catch up to the potential. Not only will special needs students get a personalized learning plan, but every student will get that opportunity. - apowell apowell Feb 20, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • I almost got a school-specific online program off the ground at the previous school. Back to Square One at the current one. But I may be able to jumpstart this, if enough kids express interest during an upcoming survey and we get to implement our Global Project class. Folded under this would be an Online Outreach subprogram, via which our students would teach Spanish to Mayan kids in Guatemala. Once that's ready to go, everything else will fall into place and we'll be the next American School of Bombay Online Academy (http://www.asbacademy.org/). - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015
  • add your response herehttp://www.issaquah.wednet.edu/academics/online
Washington, - jmorrison jmorrison Feb 10, 2015
Schools district,
- jmorrison jmorrison Feb 10, 2015
http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/StuSuc/EnrollChoice/Online/- jmorrison jmorrison Feb 10, 2015
Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.
Jordon School district,
http://jordandistrict.org/schools/online/- jmorrison jmorrison Feb 10, 2015
Nashville Public Schools - ask Kecia Ray about it! - kstubbs kstubbs Feb 18, 2015
  • I have to share the Flat Connections projects for K-12 levels - http://www.flatconnections.com/flat-projects.html These globally collaborative projects build a community of teachers from across the globe who meet synchronously most weeks over the 12-week project span to discuss the learning and plan to propel the projects forward. Students are then supported through this extended online community to connect and collaborate and co-create solutions and products together - online, virtually. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 18, 2015
  • I have thousands, just let me know what you are looking for. - apowell apowell Feb 20, 2015