Episode 83

"Engaging the Online Learner"

Duration 00:17:10      Recorded on September 27, 2010

Susan and Dan are joined by Rita-Marie Conrad and J. Ana Donaldson, authors of Engaging the Online Learner.

Show Notes::

In the 7 years since publishing this first edition of the book, what's changed? Rita starts with a reminder that interaction and collaboration have always been key in traditional education. The big change is that students now expect to be engaged. Getting them to the point where they expect to be the people leading the engagement might take a bit more time.

Ana thinks the change in expectations is due more to technology than generational differences. Social networking and web 2.0 tools make it possible for people to always be connected, including older adult students. Our challenge is to be able to bring the social part into the learning environment and make it viable. Ana's explanation helps Rita re-think her position!Susan references this research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Dan adds that early adopters are often men 50-55 who have disposable income and therefore can afford to grab up new tools (toys).

Dan asks about the model in the book and what new insights they've gained since the first publication. They're updating the current version and working on a new book, tentatively called Continuing to Engage the Online Learner. Rita walks us through the phases.

  • Phase one is Connect. Connect with the people here.
  • Phase two is Communicate. Expand the conversation from social to academic.
  • Phase three is Collaboration and Cooperation. Now they're in one phase together.
  • Phase four is Co-Management and Co-Leadership. We're all in this together, learner ownership.

Ana tells how the model is being affirmed through faculty stories.Susan asks if it takes longer to get to the fourth step? Rita thinks it takes less time! Younger learners want to lead. What gets in our way as adults is trust. The less mature learners want learning to be 'handed to them on the plate,' but as we ask students to take more responsibility for learning, it may be a change for them to do that.

Rita tells about how she saw the power of taking responsibility in a traditional community class years ago and how this turned around the level of engagement.

How does this change with global, diverse student audiences? Ana shares that you may need to spend a little more time in the earlier phases. Taking control of one's learning is not part of all cultures, but students across the world have strong social network skills. It's also important to model what you say you're going to do!

Susan thanks Rita and Ana and wraps up by promoting the Jossey-Bass Online Teaching and Learning Conference and inviting listeners to continue this conversation.

About Us

The LT Green Room is a podcast for Renewal, Retooling and Conversations about Learning. It is co-hosted by Susan Manning and Dan Balzer and its show topics are often drawn from members of LearningTimes.org, a free online community of education and training professionals from across the globe. The LT Green Room gives listeners (and ourselves) an opportunity to reflect on what they're doing behind the scene that results in an effective learning experience.


Co-Host & Producer
Susan Manning
Co-Host & Producer
Dan Balzer
Executive Producer
Carl Heine
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