Remember the old normal days? When your child travelled to the school building and attended classes in the classroom. The corona crisis has gifted us a new normal. Now, the school buildings are closed but students are still busy attending classes... the virtual ones. But are the students actually prepared for this big and sudden shift?
Without a warning, the rules of being a good student have changed too. Your child must now become a good online student! Never before in the history of mankind, online learning skills were so critical for a student. Naturally, this sudden change is causing a lot of anxiety in the minds of students and parents. This article will try to reduce your anxiety by giving you some clarity about the skills which make a child a good online student.
The age of e-learning has begun... again!
All the online tools which students are now using, have been around since more than a decade. Video conferencing, file sharing, online search etc have been around since two decades! The concept and practice of e-learning is also equally old. Corona has simply converted those online tools into the default & regular way of teaching-learning. Internet is now the everyday classroom... the only platform where teaching-learning can happen.
For many, online learning is all about attending a LIVE class on Zoom/Team/Meet hosted by a teacher. And, occasionally using Google for projects or assignments. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Online learning and classroom learning are very different.
I will show you the complete picture of what online learning is about. But first, you must realize that online learning and classroom learning are two different ways of learning. Just like walking and swimming are two different ways of moving forward.
We can see the stress building up within students and teachers due to long hours on Zoom/Team/Meet. The root of this stress lies in wrong expectation... expecting and trying hard to make the LIVE online classes work the same way as the physical classrooms.
This stress will result in burn-outs for some students and teachers :(
My advice... Don’t try too hard to walk on water. Learn to swim. It begins with accepting the difference.
The enlightenment... accepting the difference.
Online learning is basically self-learning using Internet. Classroom learning is guided-learning controlled by a teacher. When a student is learning online, there is zero or little control of a teacher on what the student does online. But in the classroom teacher can fully control the learning activity of a student.
This clarity in understanding will make a lot of things easy for the students, the parents and the teachers. It will relax a lot of nerves. Much needed relaxation!
So what does an ideal online learner do?
That’s an important question. Lets take an example of the topic ‘Newton’s Laws of Motion’ and see how an ideal online student uses Internet to learn it:
- Goes through an online course or simply a video on ‘Newton’s Laws’ to understand the topic. The online course or the video could be suggested by her physics teacher.
- If the physics teacher hasn’t suggested course or video, then searches for a trustworthy course or video online.
- Visits some online forums on Physics to resolve doubts or participate in discussions on Newton’s laws.
- Discusses her doubts with her Physics teacher during the LIVE online class.
- Showcases her knowledge by writing a blog article on Newton’s laws.
The above list will show you that LIVE online classes are just one part of online learning. It will also show what skills an online student must possess to become a good online student.
The skills which make a good online student...
- Skills to self learn topics from online courses or videos. For example KhanAcademy.org or ocw.mit.edu etc.
- Skills to search trustworthy knowledge online.
- Skills to discuss effectively on forums.
- Skills to write effective blog articles.
All of the above skills are critical for a 21st century student! None of these skills are optional or avoidable, if you want your child to be good at online learning.
Not a happy ending yet!
There are some negative side effects which an online student might face. Also there are some mistakes to avoid which can result into serious problems in future. I won’t go deep into these issues in this article, but here are three important points to remember:
- An online learner may suffer from ‘Information Overload’. It happens when she accumulates much more information than what is required for the task at hand. In this condition, the student’s brain gets overwhelmed with content & information and is not able to make use of it. Some self-discipline (which comes from Internet maturity) is needed to avoid it.
- An online learner will often get tempted to do ‘Plagiarism’. I.e. copying and using someone else’s content without giving credits to the original creator. Plagiarism can ruin a child’s career in future. That’s because leading universities and corporate in the world have a zero-tolerance policy towards plagiarism. So, students must learn to give credit for EVERY piece of content they take from the Internet.
- Since an online learner spends more time on Internet, she has higher chances of facing online dangers such as cyberbullying, cyberstalking, online frauds, hacking, risky friendships with strangers etc. Please download our e-book “Mantra for Online Safety” to know how to stay safe from all these threats (and many others!).
Enough of knowledge. Let’s take action.
If your child is a teenager, sit with her for a friendly conversation. Gently discuss the following questions:
- Are you aware about online courses?
- Do you know how to search trustworthy knowledge on Google?
- Do you know what are online discussion forums?
- How do you express or share your own knowledge or creativity online? Do you know what a ‘blog’ is?
- Are you aware there could be legal troubles in copying content from websites and using for your projects or assignments?
- Have you heard about ‘plagiarism’ before?
- Do you know what is information overload?
This will be a great start in the right direction. I know most of the parents themselves are not sure about the above questions. So to help you get a better understanding, we are offering a free e-book '10 Things Students Must Know About Online Learning'.
All the skills we talked about in this article are highly recommended by industry experts for 21st century jobs. Thank Corona for this amazing growth opportunity it has gifted your child :) Make the most out of it!