Thursday, January 27, 2005

Online Learning: Stamina and Frequency

The other day in my course at OISE/UT, Dan mentioned the notion of stamina as it relates to our course work. In essence if we were in a "face-to-face" (f2f) course we would have weekly classes that we'd need to be prepared for, but the rest of the week we'd be able to "turn off" and turn our attention to other pursuits.

In the online environment the frequency "any time, anywhere" web-based nature of the interface means we can check in from a 'net connection anywhere in the world. This means that posts can add up in a hurry. On top of readings and assignments posts take time to digest and may prompt responses, further adding to the material that needs to be "processed" in the learning environment.

All of this is to say that "falling behind" on posts is a sure way to discourage one's self in an online environment. In the 3 and 1/2 years I've been an online graduate student, I've learned a few things about stamina and frequency in "bounded learning communities."

Specifically, I've learned:
  • The longer one waits before becoming involved in discussion, the less likely one is to join the discussion

  • Self-disclosure ("I really don't understand...") while sometimes difficult, is a VERY effective way of building knowledge in online communities. This type of post will always generate some type (most often positive ;-) of response

  • Even if a given discussion thread is one I'm not interested in contributing to by making a post, it is imperative to follow along and stay "current" with discussion. This type of "lurking" will allow me to be able to contextualize subsequent posts by colleagues

  • Efforts to generate "multimedia" content are worth the effort in terms of the buzz they generate

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