Introduction to Online Learning

Why learn online?

  • Courses taught online provide opportunities for student-centered learning. Learners are empowered to learn by themselves and to teach each other. They have the opportunity to share, collaborate and critique each-others work.

  • Opportunity to write more online. You will have time to think before you write and reflect on each-others writing; therefore,your writing will improve.

  • Develop lifelong learning skills. You will be learning for the rest of your life and much of it will be online.

  • Access to rich content, including multimedia images that explain ideas better than text books and words.

  • Learn where and when you want — 24/7. Help and support is available to you through online connections.

  • Through quizzes and interactive tests you can get immediate feedback, and you can see how you are doing.

  • Get to know your peers and colleagues through online discussions, and often get to know more about their ideas than if you were in a face-to-face classroom.

  • Sharing, collaborating, and discussing online helps you develop skills that you will need for the rest of your life.


  • Use your experiences and share them. Think how much you know already!

  • Concentrate on the ideas, your Instructor will inform you of the academic requirements for your writing.

  • Practice your typing.

  • Go online, do what you need to do, and get off. You can spend many hours online ‘just having a look’. Remember the sunshine, people.

  • Allocate sufficient time to study online.

  • Use the search tool to find information.

  • Ask if there are any problems, say how you are feeling, let the Instructor know what you think.

  • Get to chat sessions on time, post things on the discussion board when you are meant to, get your assignments in on time. Use the calendar.

  • Share your work and ideas.

  • Be aware that others may be feeling uncertain too.

  • Think about what you are going to say and check that what you have written will be easily understood.

  • Be academic — reference, refer to, quote.

  • Make sure your work is your own. Plagiarism is unethical and unprofessional.

  • Make this Online Learning experience a positive one for everyone involved. Be sure to be respectful of other ideas and values, even if they differ from your own.

Sharing and Collaborating

Online learning, while offering a way to deliver assignments and content to you asynchronously, also offers you the opportunity to share and collaborate effectively. Two notions underpin the development of online courses:

  • meaningful learning

  • scaffolding.

Jonassen, Peck, and Wilson[1] describe meaningful learning as:

  • Active

  • Constructive

  • Intentional

  • Authentic

  • Cooperative.

How does this work in my course?

Your Instructor will provide opportunities for meaningful learning, through e-mail links and discussion boards and internet searches. These opportunities offer guidance through carefully constructed activities that lead you from the known to the less well known. This is called ‘scaffolding’.

In order to use these activities effectively, consider the skills you may develop:

  • language/content skills

  • negotiation

  • problem solving

  • reaching consensus

  • synthesizing/summarizing

  • observation/analysis, identifying

  • giving feedback.

We encourage you to use every opportunity to share and collaborate, so that you begin to construct a body of skills, information and knowledge that you develop, hone, and share with your classmates. How do I do this?


Paste updated documents and allocate someone to synthesize your work. Share links, comment on readings, new information, opinions. Your Instructor can set up private discussion groups.


Send each other your updated documents, allocate someone to synthesize your work.

The Internet

Use the Internet to search for information, making sure you carefully evaluate sites and avoid plagiarizing.

Writing Online

Adapted from McAlpine.[2]

Write concisely

  • Write concisely

  • If you adapt a paper copy document - cut it by 50%. People scan and use link words on the web.

  • Use paragraphs and keep your sentences short.

Use a readable design

  • Choose an easy-to-read font — sans-serif is usually easier to read than serif.

  • Choose colors that are easy to read — headings should be dark.

  • Don't use too many colors, keep to black or dark blue for main text.

  • Remember paragraphs.

  • Use lower case rather than UPPER CASE WHICH IS HARD TO READ ONLINE.

  • Only underline hyperlinks.

Write to be scanned

  • Align left — it helps the eye to scan.

  • Make your headings useful, ask questions, lead in...

  • Use the inverted pyramid structure

    • Most important idea at the top

    • Least important idea at the bottom


  1. Jonassen, D.H., Peck, K.L., & Wilson, B.G. (1999). Learning with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  2. McAlpine, R (1999). Web Word Wizardry. Wellington: Corporate Communications.


Article ID: 18807
Fri 11/18/16 3:01 PM
Thu 12/15/16 9:34 AM