For many professionals, a laptop and perhaps even just a phone is their office, so studying online, particularly business subjects makes even more sense.
David Seignior, Learning Designer at the University of Melbourne, spoke to us about the benefits of online learning, particularly when studying business.
What are the benefits of online learning?
Some of the more interesting aspects of online learning are the nature of the engagement with the content. Some examples are:
- A multi-modal approach using a diverse range of teaching and learning activities.
- Use of authentic business software (e.g. Excel Solver) as learning tools.
- Interaction with learning peers, including video tutorials via Zoom and discussion board conversations.
- Application of real-world work case studies and reflection on and integration of participants’ own work contexts.
- Access to global experts and practitioners.
All this simulates the nature of global commerce, providing the opportunity for a more seamless and authentic integration of work and study. David Seignior
Studying online has obvious practical advantages for those who are time poor, who are juggling work, personal lives and study. Shorter, more intensive eight-week terms and self-directed, experiential online learning, gives students greater flexibility to choose when, where and how they study. Not only can students themselves participate from anywhere in the world, but international experts can be brought in via recorded interviews or live webinars. This enriches and broadens the learning experience and gives students the opportunity to gain a truly global perspective as well as developing their international networks.
If participants are learning remotely, how interactive is it?
Another advantage of online learning is the ability to take a multi-modal approach, teaching and learning in a range of formats from short videos and onscreen texts and graphics, to fully interactive learning objects and animations, as well as traditional academic reading from journals. This promotes a flipped approach in which interactions with learning staff and peers, via webinar tutorials and discussion boards, is used for deeper discussion and higher-level learning tasks, rather than didactic information transmission.
These approaches, combined with an experiential focus, in which students apply knowledge and theory to real-life case studies and draw on their own work scenarios ensures a rich, authentic and relevant learning outcome.
Because of its capacity for diversity and depth, online content can be far more engaging and enabling of active, rather than passive learning.
It allows for authentic learning activities, that are experiential and student driven, but that provide sufficient scaffolding to guide students through learning concepts. It is also great for reflective, focused and collaborative tasks.
The Graduate Certificate in Business subjects have been carefully developed in a unique collaboration between world leading expert academics from Melbourne Business School and experienced learning designers, specialising in online learning pedagogy. This allows for the creation of a world class postgraduate course, where best practice curriculum and pedagogy meets cutting edge technology to produce high quality learning.
How do you ensure students feel involved and engaged in their learning?
The subjects ensure that students are able to learn not only from the material, but from the academics and each other. The online platform enables students who bring a range of professional experiences to create a rich and diverse cohort of learning peers. The role of the academic in the online context is to provide expertise but also to facilitate the learning dialogue. Students have regular access to academics, both as individual students in groups, through discussion forums and live webinar tutorials. Frequent, timely and considered assessment tasks throughout the subject, enable students to gain regular, directed feedback from their teachers. A ‘dashboard’ provides students with a snapshot of their progress through their subject learning modules and assessment tasks.
What are your 5 top tips for online learners?
- Prepare. Take time to familiarise yourself with the LMS, navigation, subject structure, types of learning activities and the overview of the subject in the pre-teaching week. Particularly if this is your first time learning online. Watch introductory videos and get to know the teacher and your fellow peers. Also test your tech: internet, webcam and audio.
- Engage with your tutor and peers. You are learning (and teaching) with other students and not just from a computer. Participate in webinars, tutorials and discussion boards. See it as a learning conversation and dialogue not just about posting a comment to meet the assessment criteria.
- Integrate your own work context into your learning. Test what you are learning at work and test your work in your learning. Share your experience and ‘crowd source’ ideas from tutors, peers and colleagues.
- Read. All that time you don’t have to spend in the library (most readings are provided for you in the Grad Cert in Business Subjects) you can use to do extra reading, to give depth and context to your other online learning activities.
- Move from the dancefloor to the balcony. Take the time to review and reflect upon your learning experience. The most successful students are those who are constantly learning how to learn. That goes for any form of study, but is particularly important for online learning.
- Be playful and have fun!