What is Online Learning?


Online learning is not new; the category encompasses any learning that takes place through web-based platforms, whether formal or informal. The learning can be structured like as in traditional courses or entirely self-paced. What has made the topic new is the recent and unprecedented focus on providing learning via the Internet that has been stimulated by the tremendous interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). What is new in this space is that online learning has “come of age;” the design of online learning is (more and more) specifically intended to encompass the latest research, the most promising developments, and new emerging business models in the online learning environment. At many institutions, online learning is an area newly ripe for experimentation — some would argue it is undergoing a sea change, with every dimension of the process open for reconceptualization. On campuses around the globe, virtually every aspect of how students connect with institutions and each other to learn online is being reworked, rethought, and redone — but it will be some time yet before ideas coalesce enough to be validated by research and implemented broadly.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Online learning is being presented as an alternative to traditional FTF classes not only in higher education, but also in the K-12 environment. Students with behavior issues, special family situations, serious illnesses, and those who simply want to get ahead are taking advantage of this format. Students who are bullied are have been Baker-acted are also good candidates. Many states provide virtual learning experiences to support these students. http://www.sreb.org/page/1331/state_virtual_schools.html - jrwood272 jrwood272 Jun 4, 2015
  • Speaking from the perspective of the rural midwest, many rural schools use various models of virtual instruction to provide their students with curriculum topics they are not able to offer due to lack of qualified teachers or simply enough teachers to offer specialized courses (ex: APA, foreign languages, advanced topics). These models include variations across a spectrum: fully online synchronous or asynchronous, courses offered via synchronous multipoint videoconference, and hybrid models that include some of each). (- kim.owen kim.owen Jun 17, 2015)

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • It is not clear how blended and digital learning fit with the description of online learning presented here. While there will likely be a insurgence of online learning (classes that are strictly online), but sooner, I suspect that we'll see blended (including flipped) learning modalities used in the classroom that will require an increasing amount of bandwidth. - anton.inglese anton.inglese Jun 20, 2015
  • All indications are that the MOOC fad has ended. I suggest de-emphasizing the role of MOOCs in online learning. The concept is so over-hyped that it may affect the credibility and value of online learning. - anton.inglese anton.inglese Jun 20, 2015
  • Peer-Based Learning/Informal Learning I know online learning is on the list, but I didn't see anything about informal, peer-based learning that occurs through use of online gaming, online communities, podcasting, vodcasting, etc. I wondering how educators can incorporate this interest driven and user focused type of learning into curriculum. Maybe this falls along with personalized learning. - abigail.leighphillips abigail.leighphillips Jun 10, 2015 [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2]

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, and creative inquiry?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


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