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  • drdianehamilton 5:56 am on June 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Learning, , , ,   

    Advantages of Peer Interaction in Online Learning 


    One of the most important ways students learn in online courses is through peer-to-peer interaction.  In my experience with traditional classrooms, there were far more lectures and much student involvement.  The professors spoke “at us” in traditional courses. In online courses, there is more of a group discussion. Students receive the professor’s perspective as well as viewpoints from every student in the course.  In my opinion, this makes for a much more interesting and interactive classroom.

    Not all students are fans of lecture-based learning.  MOOCs may experience high dropout rates due to their lecture-based format. According to the article MOOCs: Will Online Courses Help More Students Stay in School, “Critics of MOOCs are quick to point out their low completion rates (fewer than 7% of students complete the courses on average). They also note that the courses take the ineffective lecture format and make it the primary mode of learning.”

    The types of online courses I have taught rely very little, if at all, on lectures.  The courses include more peer interaction and written assignments. The peer interaction revolves around discussion questions.  There are usually at least two discussion topics posted each week.  Students must respond to the initial question and respond to their peers’ postings as well.  This requires students to address the question, discover other students’ perspectives, and develop critical thinking skills.

    Students’ responses to their peers must include substantive comments and well-constructed follow-up questions.  These questions often develop the conversation and create a dialogue.  Every student can see these discussions.  Every student can interject their comments.  It creates a pool of information that would not be provided to students in a lecture hall.  It allows for much more depth to the exploration of the topic.

    In a traditional course, the professor may give their insight and opinions about a topic.  In an online course, this is possible as well. What is different is the amount of interaction required by the students.  Granted, things may have changed since I took traditional courses in the 80’s.  However, based on what I read and what I hear from my students, traditional college courses have not changed that much.  I believe that is why there is such an interest in MOOCs.  They add a new dimension that traditional courses have lacked.  However, MOOCs may not provide the peer interaction is the same way that regular online classes can.  The reason for this is due to the number of students in class.  MOOCs are massive.  Most online courses I teach include fewer than 20 students. When there are too many students, the discussions become overwhelming and no one takes the time to read all of the postings.

    The best part of peer interaction is that students can learn from everyone’s experiences. Many online students have had decades of experience. This provides a wealth of knowledge that may be added to the professor’s perspective.  This allows everyone, including the professor, to garner important insight.

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    • Shawn Dragonaire 7:56 am on June 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for sharing this insightful article. I completely agree with your perspective. It is also very important for educators who favor teaching in a classroom-setting as a preferred learning environment to embrace and support non-traditional methods, because every student has a unique learning style that aligns best with their personality and individualized capacity to successfully comprehend the content being taught in a lesson plan.

  • drdianehamilton 7:09 am on February 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ADHD In Teenagers, , , Ken Robinson, Learning, Learning disability, Medicating Students, , Technology in Education   

    Education and ADHD: Changing How People Learn 

    In an excellent graphic presentation, Sir Ken Robinson discusses problems with education.  The video is informative, interesting and entertaining.  Of particular interest is around 3 minutes and 40 seconds into the video when he gives some startling information about the number of people being medicated for ADHD across the country.  While he acknowledges ADHD is a real problem, he does a nice job of showing that there is reason for concern regarding prescription habits.


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  • drdianehamilton 12:39 pm on November 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Learning, , Mark Rush, , , , , , University of Florida,   

    How Online Learning Compares to Traditional . . . Continuing the Debate 

    The New York Times recently reported, “An analysis of 99 studies by the federal Department of Education concluded last year that online instruction, on average, was more effective than face-to-face learning by a modest amount.”

    However, in this same article, they noted that not all results have shown this to be true.  Mark Rush of the University of Florida’s researched students who watched lectures online vs. traditional students who attended regular live in person lectures. Their study showed more online students let the lectures pile up and got behind.  To find out more about this study, check out the New York Times Article.  

    While I find this to be an interesting study, almost none of the online classes I teach include recorded lectures.  Therefore I don’t find this data to be representative of the online experience that I have witnessed in my over 5 years of teaching for many different online universities.

    Although many people find the lecture experience a big part of education, not everyone finds this to be the most effective way to learn.  When I attended a traditional college, I personally did not enjoy having to sit through long lectures.  Perhaps that is why I was drawn to online learning later. 

    I am more inclined to look at the 99 studies from the Federal Department of Education than one study that looks specifically at how well students keep up with watching lectures in determining the effectiveness of online learning. I personally think that people are drawn to the type of education that fits their needs.  For those that enjoy long lectures, traditional universities may be the best optino for them. For those who don’t, online has a lot to offer.

    For those considering taking an online education, check out:  The Online Student’s User Manual:  Everything You Need to Know to be a Succcessful Online Student.

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    How are Online Degrees Perceived

  • drdianehamilton 2:41 pm on September 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Harvard online, , Learning, , , online degree, perception of online degree, traditional degree   

    How Are Online Degrees Perceived? 

    I often get into Linkedin group discussions about the pros and cons of online learning.  I address it in depth in my book, The Online Student’s User Manual.  I thought eLearners.com had a pretty good article about the acceptance of online degrees.  To read the entire article click here.


    In that article, hiring managers were asked how they felt about strictly online learning environments.  It was close to 50/50 in terms of whether they felt it was favorable or not.  The acceptance got better with the schools that had both regular classes and online classes offered. 

    I have taken both traditional and online courses.  I personally prefer online learning.  I think it will become more and more the norm.  I feel I learned more and had a much better experience in my online business classes because I was not forced to be in as many group-related activities.  In my traditional university experience, I witnessed a lot of business majors getting their bachelor degree based on being in groups where they contributed nothing and got A’s because the rest of the group did the work. 

    I think a lot of people are slow to accept technology because it is a big change. However, online learning is here and it is growing.  I work for many online universities where I see very strict guidelines enforced.  I have people monitoring my classes constantly.  I get feedback and direction to be sure I am staying on track and offering only the highest in quality education. 

    Perhaps a lot of the perception is due to the profit or non-profit status of schools.  I think a lot is name recognition.  Big-named schools like Harvard now offer online courses.  To find out more about that program, click here. I think as more schools like Harvard add distance education, it will only improve the perception of online education.

    • Online Courses 5:20 am on September 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Good points on online degrees. Online degree programs will enable you to study at your own pace and you won’t be restrained to one schedule.

    • Trident Online Education 4:11 pm on September 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It’s good to see that online degrees are becoming more acceptable to a large number of employers. It is true that grading in traditional business tends to be based on the work produced by the group as whole which allows individual members to slack off. You’re more responsible for your own work with most online education programs.

  • drdianehamilton 7:09 pm on September 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Hunting, Learning, MERLOT, , President of the United States, , Sloan-C   

    Top 10 Free Online Courses 

    Teaching Online Courses – Top 10 Free Courses  from GetEducated.com

    via Teaching Online Courses – Top 10 Free Courses | GetEducated.com.

    Check out this article to find some great resources for online instructors including sites to teach best practices, developing course content, designing classes, tips on distance education, step-by-step training videos, links to sites like MERLOT which has vast resources for online instructors and of course a link to Sloan-C.

  • drdianehamilton 11:41 am on September 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , helium.com, Learning, , , ,   

    Advantages and disadvantages of online education classes – Helium 

    I recently responded to an article on Helium.com that addressed the advantages and disadvantages of online education.  Here is my response to the disadvantages that were listed:

    I am an online professor and teach for 6 different universities.  I found your topic about advantages and disadvantages of online learning to be interesting.  I would like to address the disadvantages you mentioned and give my insight based on my many years of teaching experience.

    Uniformity – My students don’t have to necessarily have the same exact computer set up that every other student has.  All students can go to their local library for computer access if necessary.  Some online courses require the ability to view videos, etc.  But for the most part, the standard computer setup handles most of the needs that students have.  I try to include several different ways of reaching students based upon their learning needs.  If a student prefers to learn through audio files, for example, then that student would probably be wise to have a system that allows that type of access.  The good professor will incorporate several types of visual, audio, etc. choices to reach the different learners’ preferences. In fact, I will be teaching a webinar through Sloan-C in October to explain how to do this for new online learners.

    Disconnection – You mentioned it is easy to never log in, and never to return email, etc.  It is just as easy to sleep in and not feel like driving to class.  The advantage the student has here is that if they do sleep in, they won’t miss class and they can log on when they wake up.  I agree that no system has a true solution for those with poor behaviors. However, I do think that online offers advantages for both the introvert and extrovert personalities.  The introvert has more time to think about what they want to type.  The extrovert has the ability to delete the thing they may have needed to rethink.

    Authenticity – I received my BS at a school where over 300 students would be in one classroom. It would be very hard to be sure that the student taking those tests were actually who they said they were as well.  The good thing that is available now is software like Turnitin that allows the professor to be sure that the work turned in is not plagiarized or “purchased” off of the Internet. 

    I agree the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. I believe online learning is the future of education and we need to embrace it.

  • drdianehamilton 11:33 am on August 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Learning, , , , , , , User Manual   

    New Book Explains 10 Things Online Students Need To Know 

    Are you currently taking an online course or considering taking one? The Online Student’s User Manual provides some answers, other books about online learning have neglected. Even if you feel comfortable writing an essay or uploading documents, there is a lot more that you need to know to be a successful student. In the book, you will learn:

    1. What you need to know about computer and software requirements

    2. How to use the search engines

    3. How to upload assignments

    4. How to organize and manage your time

    5. How to track and schedule your assignments

    6. How to communicate to professors and fellow students

    7. How to maximize your grade

    8. What mistakes to avoid

    9. How to create measurable goals and stay motivated

    10. How to prepare for tests . . . and so much more

    Online is the future of education. If you or someone you know is considering taking an online course, The Online Student’s User Manual provides the answers needed for success.  If you are interested in receiving a free newsletter with tips and suggestions from the book, click here.

  • drdianehamilton 2:53 pm on July 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: David Kolb, , , , KOLB, Learning, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Learning Styles and Personality Tests 


    Understanding personality preferences and learning styles has always interested me. My daughter, Toni Rothpletz, and I wrote about personality assessments in our book It’s Not You It’s Your Personality.  However, in that book, we discussed more personality-related tests rather than learning style tests.  In my book for online students, I do discuss styles of learning to some extent.  Here are just a few of the learning style sites that you might find interesting to see where you fit with your learning preferences:


    The site http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/ offers a nice overview of their breakdown of learning styles including:

    VARK:  (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic)

    I currently teach for several online universities where they administer different personality and learning style tests.  One of those tests is the VARK questionnaire.  The creators of VARK claim “This questionnaire is designed to tell you something about your preferences for the way you work with information.”  This test is copyrighted. To receive information about it, you can email flemingn@ihug.co.nz.  The results of this test suggest that you adjust your studying to be more like your style.  These styles include:

    • Visual
    • Aural
    • Read/Write
    • Kinesthetic

    KOLB’s Experiential Learning Theory ELT

    Another important learning styles test is David Kolb’s KOLB  Learning Style.  Kolb also 4 styles or preferences.  They base these preferences on a four-stage learning cycle.  These four stages include:

    Stage 1: Concrete Experience (CE)

    Stage 2: Reflective Observation (RO)

    Stage 3: Abstract Conceptualization (AC)

    Stage 4: Active Experimentation (AE)

    There are two levels to this model . . .after going through the above stages of experience, reflection, conceptualization and experimentation, there are four styles of learning that a person may prefer:

    • Diverging (CE/RO) – ability to see things from different perspectives – like brainstorming, interested in people and work well in groups.
    • Assimilating (AC/RO) – logical, like concepts – like clear explanations, do well in science-related careers.
    • Converging (AC/AE) – problem solvers – practical – like technical tasks, do well in technology-related careers.
    • Accommodating (CE/AE) – hands-on person, likes a good challenge – rely on gut instinct, do well in teams requiring action.

    To find out more about KOLB learning styles click here.

    To learn more about learning styles for the online student, check out The Online Student’s User Manual .  To learn more about personality styles and understanding personality assessments check out It’s Not You It’s Your Personality.

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