So can we actually learn online?

Learning occurs when individuals freely interact directly with other students/individuals; explicitly, as the students/individuals construct, exercise, verify, solidify and improve their knowledge through discussions and information sharing – be it a face-to-face learning environment within a brick and mortar institution or by way of participation in asynchronous online learning environments. Meaningful and effective social learning does take place in online environments. Collaboration also freely prompts participation, and contributes to improving communication and listening skills (Secore, 2017).

According to Secore (2017), the social constructivist learning approach engages combinations of both the cooperative/collaborative and sociocultural models of learning. Therefore, the learner gains knowledge through meaningful social interaction with others, and applies that information to a context in which they are familiar and to which they can relate to.

Secore (2017) also views the instructor’s role as more of a guide in the learning process, with an added social role to provide a safe, positive, friendly, and motivating environment that promotes an open and meaningful learning experience. The instructor solicits questions, ideas and thoughts for the students to think about. Furthermore, the instructor assists the students is more than a facilitator of learning, but additionally a mentor, a consultant, and a coach.

Although online learning does not offer the same learning methodologies employed in conventional learning settings, e.g., face-to-face communication, libraries, and resource rooms – the online learning model has influenced and altered the student approaches to learning, discernment, and critical thinking.

-Sue Sodon

Reference:  Secore, S. (2017). Social constructivism in online learning:  andragogical influence and the effectual educator. e-Mentor. nr 3(70), s. 4–9, Retrieved 20 November 2018 from http://dx.doi.org/10.15219/em70.1300

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