Preparing your Online Learner

| August 8, 2015

Getting rear ended on a winding road is not usually the way I meet students. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the other car’s driver, Christina, 17, will forever know that instructing her passenger on how to use the CD player while driving is not the best move. The car I was in, made of plastic, bounced back. Unfortunately for Christiana, her metal car crinkled. We pulled off into a nearby parking lot, assessed each others damages, and made small talk while waiting for the police to arrive.

Swapping stories of where I was from (Minnesota) and what I was doing in Virginia (attending a training conference on behalf of The Virtues Campus to become a Certified Career Direct Consultant) led to a discussion about options for education. My own kids tease me that it takes me less than five minutes after meeting someone before my conversation includes the words CLEP and careers. Christina’s passenger, Maeve, was quick to share that online classes was how she recently completed high school. She was not cut out for sitting in a classroom environment every day, but flourished with the freedom that online classes offered her. Christina replied that she could never “do that”. Maeve agreed with me that her motivation to be self-scheduling was because she wanted different experiences than what was found on-campus.

Though high school options lag behind college options, we are entering into an age of free global education. Khan Academy, and MOOCs are examples of this trend for availability of free online education. Most chief academic officers at colleges and universities were skeptical of online learning when it was in its infancy. Today, according to a recent survey, more than 70% of them now believe it is critical to their long-term strategy.

Many components of today’s on-campus classes are already online: exams, assignments, research, reading, etc. Most students are comfortable in this blended learning environment. They have come to expect an instructor to verbally deliver their assignments and lead the classroom interaction. It’s true that lab sciences will always need a physical lab, and it is hard to replicate the synergy that comes from being physically present in an engaging on-campus class. However, as digital technology continues to push open doors to access, engagement, and quality, preparing today’s students to be a successful e-learner will give them full advantage of the changes that are taking place.

CLEP + On-Campus + Online
My youngest will earn his degree from a regionally accredited university in December. To keep it affordable, we “unbundled” his education and looked at each component separately: learning, credentials, and experience. He completed and transferred in one year of CLEP credits (cost under $1,000), two years of lab science courses taken on-campus at local community college (paid for through PSEO), and is completing his last year of university credits online (about $13,000). At this school, cost per credit for courses taken on-campus is $1,200 (minus scholarships). Cost per credit online is $405. Not all schools structure their costs like this, but it is worth checking in to. The flexibility of his schedule has allowed him to take advantage of adventure, academic, and vocational preparation opportunities that suited his interests and budget.

What can you do to help your student be an effective e-learner? A strong e-learner should have skills to drive his own learning and take ownership of his own schedule. Many of the same skills and attitudes students need to be successful CLEPers will serve them well to be prepared for this growing global digital environment.

Pass the baton.
In kindergarten we sit side by side with our kids sharing in the joy and discovery of learning to read. In third grade we sit across the table and work on math facts with them. By sixth grade we assign them a chapter to read while we step into the other room. In eighth grade we work with them at the beginning of the week to develop a schedule of activities that meets target dates and goals that we have jointly determined. Step-by-step we teach critical thinking skills. We encourage them to be good stewards of their time. We share what it means to view the world through a biblical lens.Through middle school, their developing level of maturity demands that we lead. But somewhere in those teen years, the baton is passed. Students should be creating their own schedules and determining their own goals. As parents, we become coaches, encouragers, and mentors.

Develop a self-learner.
What should they study and when? Encourage them to not be bound to only learning the material that is prepared and placed before them. Choose at least one subject this year that gives them options for directing their own learning.

Build their confidence.
Find ways to help your students build confidence in their ability to learn, not just the teachers ability to teach. In doing so, you are creating life-long learners. Encourage and reward their efforts to learn outside of the lesson. For a struggling or accelerated learner, online offers the option to review lectures, pause and take notes, or skim over content that is already mastered. Don’t let your own learning style color your perception of how your students learns best or what they can accomplish.

Please share this article with friends and introduce them to Credits Before College.

Copyright©2015 Cheri Frame – All Rights Reserved


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