10 Jul 2019

BEST PRACTICES IN ONLINE EDUCATION

Emerging technologies are moving the leading economies forward and, at the same time, enabling the developing world to leapfrog from their current status straight into the forefront of development. If they do not catch up with fast-growing potential technologies, the digital divide may leave them further behind than ever before! There are important role upcoming instructional technologies can play in Africa, Asia and elsewhere through the innovative use of the Internet, Podcasting, Skype communications and desktop audio and video conferencing. Studios for product design and architectural design need to be more than normal classrooms; they must provide design and drawing and modelling infrastructure, pin-up boards, and an inspirational environment. Connected global digital design studios can provide the digital equivalent of traditional studios, thus enabling global interactive and collaborative design more easily and accessible. This chapter concludes with further thoughts on newer instructional technologies.

Not all learners are ready for self-directedness and can benefit from it only in proportion to their level of maturity. This clarified that self-directedness correlates with age, but with maturity as a mediator variable. In fact, very few eighteen-year-olds in 21st Century America qualify as “adult learners,” due to underdeveloped maturity levels. This is why many adult education programs specify that students be older than 21 to enrol. However, he was in agreement with the author of this paper that “a single unified  ‘theory’ of adult learning is neither desirable or possible, that learning cannot be construed as a solely mental process existing within the mind of an individual”. Rather, the goal is to evaluate and extract those applicable components.

Most traditional, non-profit institutions with large commuter, non-residential and part-time student populations are well-known and trusted within their localities. When online learning burst into the academic consciousness in the mid-90s there was a rush by many of these institutions to downplay their locality and to emphasize their role in meeting the needs of all kinds of geography-independent and global student populations. However, many of these same institutions eventually came to realize that many of their local and in some cases even their residential student populations were as interested in enrolling in online learning courses as were students living afar. The institutions are known in their local regions; that’s not the issue. What is not always known is that they are offering a “quality” online or blended product.

What this indicates is that students from all majors, both graduate and undergraduate, traditional and online, all across the university, are integrating online courses into their studies, leveraging the flexibility offered by technology to meet both their educational goals and lifestyle needs, whether they are a traditional student in a dorm on campus or an adult learner with a mortgage forty minutes away by interstate highway. Great efforts have been made to give every student equal access to high-quality learning and to remove barriers for people with disabilities. However, most of these efforts are focused on the traditional, face-to-face classroom experience. Less attention is devoted to those
taking courses fully online and their ability or inability to cope with web-based interactive content. While standards and guidelines have been developed to support and assist with accessible web design, their primary focus has been on technical specifications, assistive technologies, or legal issues. Fewer studies have been conducted to investigate how that “accessible” content is perceived from a learner’s perspective and how helpful it really is. As distance learning adapts to new technology, instructors should be innovative in their relationship
with students and in methods for developing educational content, accommodating the diverse needs and learning styles which will be beneficial for all, regardless of their (dis)abilities.

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