Well, this course is coming to an end and I like to use this opportunity to reflect back and talk about some of the most important and eye-opening lessons I learned.
I feel like the most important lesson for me has been the realization that online learning and online courses are not the equivalents of each other and, while the elements of successful online learning should certainly be incorporated in online courses, online learning is a much broader concept that can be achieved in many different contexts and platforms.
In equalizing online learning and online courses, I always thought of them as something that few select universities in the world should be engaged in and everyone else should stay put with what they are doing. I still believe that providing full online courses is not something that every department should aspire to do under any circumstances, but I am much more aware of the possibilities of online learning and more positive and excited about incorporating different elements of online learning in my own teaching.
Looking back at the different concepts we learned during the course, one of the most useful and thought-provoking ones was the distinction between being an online “Visitor vs. Resident”, in the wording of David White. I always felt something superficial about many of the efforts at different departments to introduce online teaching elements into their curricula. Learning about the concepts of online visitors and residents made me realize why I felt that way.
One more thing that I learned about and found very useful was that there are so many more useful tools for online collaboration and learning than I previously imagined. Honestly, I never thought of searching for a new tool before, as I assumed if there was a useful tool I should have at least heard about! I was utterly wrong! Now, when the time comes, I know there are multiple tools that have been developed to make online collaboration and learning more efficient and engaging.
When it comes to designing an online course, among other considerations, I will always try to rely on addressing students’ concerns and expectations. The majority of students at any level are still more accustomed to traditional classes, when it comes to coursework, and they usually are confused and don’t exactly know what they can get out of it, when they take online courses. I believe the first stage of any successful course should be an efficient system of gathering feedback at the early stages of the course or even before a course starts.
I’ll try to prepare a distance workshop for a number of Master’s students in economics soon. That would be a perfect and challenging opportunity to design and implement some of the elements of online learning that I have learned in this course.