The overlooked aspect of online learning environments

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As the name suggests, online learning usually occurs without much face-to-face interaction between the instructor and the learner, or among the learners. Consequently, people tend to neglect the psychological and emotional issues associated with this type of learning. The results may range from low student performance to feelings of exclusion and insecurity. Two academic articles I have read recently focus on this problem and provide some insight into the ways that different people interact with each other when their learning happens online, and stress the importance of trust among them.
Pavalache-Ilie & Cocorada (2014) conducted a survey among 175 students engaged in online learning, and were able to identify some psychological factors affecting the performance and behavior of online learners. Their study revealed the following findings:
– male students tend to be more independent in online courses
– in their second and consecutive years, students are more likely to choose tasks requiring less collaboration with other students
– introverts require more support from their teachers
– students who have the need to be in the field are prone to feeling disoriented
– learners with good reflective skills benefit more from this mode of learning than other students
Wang (2014) recognizes the importance of trust in online learning, and identifies three trust-inducing qualities of online course instructors based on the analysis of a survey conducted among some 361 students:
– assertiveness
– responsiveness
– sense of care and community
The majority of the respondents of the survey also believed that more face-to-face time with their instructor would go a long way in promoting trust.
The two studies confirm that personal characteristics of students as well as instructors have an impact on their online learning experience, and factors like this cannot be dismissed simply because of the untraditional nature of this mode of communication.

References
Pavalache-Ilie, M., & Cocorada, S. (2014). Interactions of students’ personality in the online learning environment. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 128, 117-122.

Wang, Y. D. (2014). Building student trust in online learning environments. Distance Education, 35(3), 345-359.

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6 thoughts on “The overlooked aspect of online learning environments

  1. Probably there are huge numbers of articles discussing advantages and disadvantages of online learning. Consequently the views constantly change in this regard. Having read several papers on this topic and comparing them with my real practice of distance education, I personally would share that I am benefitting a lot from my online studies. First of all, it is convenient mode of learning in terms ‘access to the best knowledge in the best university’ for people who are working and at the same time applying their acquired knowledge in their practice. But still most of us find arduous to combine both work and study. Therefore, I think there should be included some classes on ‘good time management’, maybe at school, so that we prepare future generation to upcoming inevitable online learning environment. What do you think of it?

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  2. I would argue if online education could in near future replace the face-to-face learning. Except probably the computer programming that have well-established learning environment. However, the traditional education offers more than simple transfer of knowldedge, since it includes human interaction, discussions and insights that it is diffcult to achieve in the online environment. Although, one would not ignore benefits of online learning, which provides lots of learnign opportunities that have never existed before. Therefore, the future of education does not seem possible without online education, but face-to-face education will still be present due to its large benefits.

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    1. Dear Dostan!
      I liked your analysis of two articles. I have never thought about the importance of psycological aspects in online education. There are a number of articles, which discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this mode of communication. However, sometimes we forget to pay attention to the students’ individual aspects. In my opinion, this issue can be very interesting to discuss. The question which I have right now in my head is “Is it possible to create online courses individually for each student taking into the consideration his/her psychological characteristics?”

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  3. Well done, Dostan. You’ve done a great job narrowing your focus, finding an interesting and little-discussed topic, and provided a concise and clear summary of two articles. Your introduction and conclusion are ideal examples of how to set a focus and draw a connection between the ideas in your body paragraphs. Only minor grammar errors.

    5/5

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  4. Dear Dostan,

    Thank you for a very interesting post. I have read quite a number of articles on online education and e-;learning, but I haven’t ever thought of such aspects of this mode of learning. Indeed, the psychological characteristics of the students MUST be taken into consideration within the study online. I will definitely have a look at the articles you mention.

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