Common problems with online learning that Conesol can address:
Myth 1: Online units don’t achieve equivalent outcomes as face to face units – actually, they shouldn’t! But the expectation is that they will because most online course design in education institutions has started with the face to face (F2F) equivalent and then tried to redesign or convert F2F to online. We don’t do this – and we recommend not working to the same academic board accreditation but rather to revisit the whole program: go back to the roots to design for online from the start. We design for an equivalent learning experience that is fi t for purpose, not the same learning experience replicated to fit.
Myth 2: Online units have poor retention rates compared to face to face units – this is usually because the online experience is poor and students feel isolated. We build in tasks that ensure students have to engage with each other through social media and processes they would most likely use in their everyday interactions rather than requiring them to block time out to engage with their online learning. Additionally, engagement in learning is directly related to usefulness of what’s learned; Conesol makes sure that our learning designs immerse students throughout their learning program in tasks that are authentic to application in later professional life. Students see that what they are asked to know and do are relevant to their job functions and career aspirations.
Myth 3: Academics are not good online tutors – coaching to learn online is a special skill set and hence we provide training for the teaching team prior to the unit being delivered. Online teaching skills are not hard to learn, but it is dangerous to assume that academics possess these skills and so will automatically engage within a new mode of delivery. Conesol helps assure that teachers are equipped to facilitate learning in units tailored to the online mode of engagement.
Myth 4: Links break, articles disappear, the resources date very quickly – we counter this by offering a selection of resources for students to choose from so learners are not dependent on single sources, and also by setting students tasks of finding resources and sharing them, thus building their own research banks via enquiry skills.
Myth 5: Students can plagiarise online and you don’t know if it is their own work – academic integrity can be safeguarded by the assessment design and how learning tasks are sequenced and how submissions occur. By including elements of peer review, reciprocal teaching, and by responding to issues that occur on the day of assessment, you can reduce the opportunity for plagiarism.
Myth 6: Group work is too difficult to do online – bunkum! Group engagement requires the good design of tasks and the mechanisms in place to support them. We all spend much of our days communicating one way or another through our mobile phones; we need to enlist mobile technology as the medium for group work, and the task needs to be something that truly does require a group to work, rather than being an individual task given to a group.
Myth 7: Online courses are boring to work through and involve too much reading – this again all depends on the learning design, and the skillset of the learning design team. Each member of the Conesol team brings a specialist skill to the online design product as well as generalist skills in the curriculum design process. This means we include interactive elements, graphics, animations, quizzes and other fun elements into the process during the design and build phase. Getting the mix of skills across the team is core to Conesol recruitment and is what makes our team unique and our process good teamwork.