“Persevering at online learning is also affected by computer and information literacy, time management […] and online communication skills […] self-esteem, feelings of belongingness in the online program, and the ability to develop interpersonal skills with peers […]” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 199)
Research is showing that online learning is proving to be a very effective form of instruction for a wide range of content and types of learners. With the self-direction that is required to be successful with online learning, this is especially an appropriate option for adult learners.
With the frustrations that come so often from using computers and new technologies, it is no surprise to me that online learner retention is a challenge. Because of a disconnect with the physical learning environment, online learners may feel less ‘attached’ to their instructor and their course, and perceive there to be no consequences in withdrawing from an online course. They are not subjected to providing explanations to instructors, or making excuses to online colleagues. To prevent this, it is vital that instructors make an effort to ensure all learners feel personally welcomed, and part of a larger learning experience. Instructors should be available to the learners, both online and physically, should they need extra support or guidance.
If in the future I have the opportunity to provide classroom teaching, I might consider using blended instruction (online and face-to-face). In doing this, I would be indicating to the learners that as an instructor, I am respectful of their time by limiting time spent in the classroom, and also that I recognize them to be adult learners who are capable of being self-directed. I would ensure that I provided one-on-one feedback and coaching, and also plan learning activities that would promote reflection, action, and self-monitoring.
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L.L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.