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Student Voice

How can online communities enhance online learning?

It is no news that there has been a major change to the way curriculums are being delivered across the Education sector. There has been a distinctive rise of e-learning over the past couple of months, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. With learning communities being moved online, instructors need to go beyond the traditional approach to ensure that students remain active learners. It is a known fact that student engagement with course content is imperative to ensure student success and good performance. To enhance online learning, it will be useful to identify current challenges within this area and work to address them.  

One of these challenges being the lack of learning motivation and engagement by students. This could be for various reasons but one way to address this is by creating a course structure/flow comprehensible by learners of all levels as students sometimes find it difficult to navigate online Learning websites especially if there is a lot of content.  

Introducing regular assessments to monitor the progress of learners is another great way to ensure a higher level of student engagement with the content and this ultimately boosts their motivation. This could be in the form of conducting an assessment quiz at the end of each module, grading them, and giving feedback. Post module summaries are also a useful way to encourage engagement.  

Using up to date course content that comply with recent events and requirements brings the content to life and makes it relevant, which is a sure way to enhance online learning. Lecturers should not limit the course content to a series of pdfs and PowerPoints but should be creative in their delivery as far as is practical.  

Understanding learners needs; some lecturers may be really good at getting students to share their perspectives and discuss assignments but may have students struggling to navigate the course content, while another may have a well-structured course content flow but students struggling to engage with the lecturer and fellow students. To ensure active learning, one would need to cater to the needs of the students and such information can be collected through polls and surveys. Flexibility is key here to make sure lecturers can adopt the needed changes based on student feedback.  

Though online learning like any other industry has its challenges, if approached right, it can facilitate a more effective and enjoyable learning experience, all while ensuring students retain knowledge, apply what they have learned and develop relationships.  

Michelle Jideofor BILT Student Fellow 20/21 working on the projects – Creating online communities – Assessment and feedback – Students as researchers -Decolonisation.

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