Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Encouraging Peer Learning In Your Online Classroom

The advent of internet technology has brought to our doorsteps a sea of opportunities and changed the way we work, the way we interact socially, and even the way we educate ourselves. With a multitude of information available for us at the click of a button, it has become easier for everyone to gain relevant knowledge and upgrade skills according to the need that arises at work or college. A number of top universities and colleges all over the world, having realized the plethora of avenues that internet opens up, have come up with new and highly advantageous courses delivered online with the help of experienced and able faculty.

Today, professionals from every field and every walk of life benefit immensely from this trend of obtaining education online and adding to their skill set and their qualifications. With technology changing and work environments evolving at an extremely fast pace, it is becoming more and more important for professionals to brush up their skills from time to time and match the requirements of their industry at all times. Online courses provide an opportunity to do so and that too in a very convenient manner. Apart from the obvious benefits of online education, opportunity presents itself in the form of peer learning and effective interaction among batch mates. The participants of an online classroom interact with each other in a fashion no different than that in an on campus classroom.

Peer learning is an important aspect of learning. It not only stimulates a healthy discussion encompassing the significant topics relating to the subject that the group is taking together, but also helps build effective relations. It, therefore, becomes vital to initiate discussions and encourage cross-questioning in an online classroom. An online classroom should be abuzz with activity just like a regular classroom is. The assignments and study protocol followed should be stimulating and engaging, such that every individual is buoyant and adds his insights and thoughtful ideas to make the class effective.

The participants in an online classroom are from different backgrounds and, at times, from different industries and fields too. This makes an online classroom a rich pool of information. Sharing work experiences and real life problem solving tactics enriches each participant's intellect and makes classroom learning interesting. It becomes the responsibility of every participant to acknowledge the awareness and understanding of his peers in the batch and pay close attention to the information they have to offer. At the same time, it is vital that the individual on his part makes constructive contribution to the classroom through excerpts from his own experience in the industry.

The faculty must ensure that there is effortless exchange of ideas and information in the classroom, that ideas as well as problems are put forward and addressed practically. The questions should be answered diligently and group activities involved in the study schedules so as to create an interest in the class and the subject. The participants should be given ample time to get social and make lasting contacts.

These efforts when ensured would go a long way in paving the way to lasting work relationships and aid effective learning of the nuances of the subject.