Over the past month I have been taking a course exploring the developments in online learning through Coursera a great site where you can follow a course in almost any subject, at any time. Several prominent universities such as Yale are also offering courses for free on the site so it is well worth checking out.
As a tutoring agency we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of online learning: many of our students are based as far away as the US and Russia while other students frequently travel over the school holidays meaning that they would ordinarily miss out on their regular tuition in person. However with online teaching tools such as Skype and Twitter, students can now keep up to date with their lessons more easily and have regular and immediate contact with their tutors as and when they need it.
Online learning is becoming increasingly popular with students of the millennial generation as they are already using technologies such as Pinterest and YouTube as well as blogging sites such as Tumblr and Wikispaces on a daily basis and often multitask with several technologies at once (it is estimated that 84% of students have a Facebook account and 76% access it through a mobile device). Advocates of online learning believe that the more engaging and varied the tasks that students are set the better they will do. The gamification of learning is becoming widespread for a variety of ages and is now widely recognised as a good way to engage and assess students both in and outside the classroom.
Here are just some of the sources out there on Freetech4teachers.
Increasingly online learning is becoming a good way to conduct learning outside of the classroom – students can easily collaborate on projects, such as in Google+ hangouts where students can take part in online lectures with their tutor and a small group of other students anywhere in the world. Even more exciting is the expanding use of augmented reality tools in education: this enables the viewer to see and explore a technologically enhanced world around them using a mobile device. For instance, you could go into a museum and hold your phone up to a statue which would then come to life and provide you with relevant facts and information. The British Museum has done just that with their new Gift for Athena app.
I hope to soon be able to inform and train the tutors on our books in the methods and resources that I am discovering so that they can enhance their teaching and benefit their students.