How online learning during COVID-19 can be better

While KPU has been making strides in implementing online learning, potential improvements could be made for a better experience

(Unsplash/ Christin Hume)

Due to COVID-19, we all had to take classes that were either entirely or partially online.

Although my semester was not too bad, I think that there are improvements that can be made such as flexible deadlines for assignments, creative ways to engage with one another for both students and instructors, and student resources that help with organization and class engagement — especially for asynchronous classes.

This semester I took four courses, with one of them being completely asynchronous. Having student resources was vital since asynchronous classes are similar to self-paced learning except with deadlines attached to them.

Deadlines are essential to completing a course. To promote scheduling, Moodle could create an option for students to create their own course material checklist for each course. The checklist could automatically connect with KPU’s student email, which can help students stay focused and engaged with the class material.

For synchronous classes, I found that having a forum for students to ask questions was engaging. However, including an incentive for students to post topics that are related to the course material would increase further engagement. This would work especially if a student could get extra credit for posting one post a week.

Giving extra credit will encourage students to participate in different topics, which can create a social learning environment even if it’s in an online format.

Flexible deadlines are very helpful, especially during this pandemic where some students might be taking on more than one job or taking on more responsibilities overall to make ends meet.

Online learning can sometimes feel isolating for both students and instructors. Instructors could show students the online mental health resources that KPU offers and take time to ensure that everyone knows where they can find resources if and when they need them.

Instructors could check in on students during the semester through a post that doesn’t have anything to do with a mark or course material, which could stimulate conversation between students and make everyone feel less lonely.

One of my courses had a check-in post using Moodle’s forum feature every week, with one post stating how you are doing in the course and one positive highlight from your week, no matter how small it might have been. I found that it helped me stay engaged in the course and have found that I had done better in that course because I felt less isolated.

Overall, fostering a positive environment and understanding the needs of both students and instructors is vital for all to ensure a successful online semester. We are all in this together, and this will not last not forever.