The Hub Benefits to fully online learning

Athabasca University (AU) has been a global leader in distance education for 50 years now. Along the way, our teaching, scholarship, and programming have evolved and innovated blended and fully online learning.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant a huge shift into fully online learning for a whole range of people who may not have ever considered fully online learning. While there are challenges to overcome, there are huge benefits and advantages to fully online learning.

Learners and educators are recognizing the flexibility and openness that it offers. For learners, there is an opportunity for greater access to information, increased learning skills, opportunities both to learn with others and to teach others, and improved satisfaction and learning outcomes (Cleveland-Innes & Wilton, 2018).

Key benefits

Pulling information from AU’s MOOC that was crafted by members of AU’s Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesCentre for Distance Education, Dr. Marti Cleveland-Innes, Dan Wilton, Dr. Nathaniel Ostashewski, and Carmen Jensen-Tebb, they identified some of the key benefits:

  1. Opportunity for collaboration at a distance: Individual students work together virtually in an intellectual endeavour as a learning practice.
  2. Increased flexibility: Technology-enabled learning allows for learning anytime and anywhere, letting students learn without the barriers of time and location but with the possible support of in-person engagement.
  3. Increased interaction: Blended learning offers a platform to facilitate greater interactivity between students, as well as between students and teachers.
  4. Enhanced learning: Additional types of learning activities improve engagement and can help students achieve higher and more meaningful levels of learning.
  5. Learning to be virtual citizens: Learners practice the ability to project themselves socially and academically in an online community of inquiry. Digital learning skills are becoming essential to be a lifelong learner, and blended courses help learners master the skills for using a variety of technologies.

If you’re looking for more information on realizing some of these advantages to fully online learning, AU is offering three MOOCs.

MOOC information

Learning to learn online runs March 20 – April 26, 2020 and is a free course. You can register at any time while the course runs. This course is recommended to both students and teachers who are looking to understand how learning works in an online space.

LTLO explores the fundamentals of the learning process and various models of online courses to determine your learning preferences and which forms of online learning are best for you. Activities will address common misconceptions, frustrations and fears about online learning, and introduce techniques to help overcome such obstacles and gain confidence as a learner.

Introduction to technology-enabled learning runs April 5 – May 9, 2020 and you can register in this free course at any point during its run time. This course is primarily aimed towards teachers who want to build on their knowledge and practice in teaching and learning with technology.

Designed to accommodate teachers’ busy schedules, the course offers flexibility with options for learning the content. You will learn from readings, videos, discussions with other participants and instructors, meaningful exercises, quizzes and short assignments.

Blended learning practice runs April 19 – May 16, 2020 and you can register at any point during the course. This course is an introduction to blending technology and distance education teaching strategies with traditional, in-person classroom activities. This course is open to teachers and other educational professionals considering implementing blended learning practice into their own classrooms or programs.