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Faculty of Information Technology and Multimedia Communication

MAY / 2011

OUMH1103

LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN DISTANCE LEARNERS

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790326075037001 790326-07-5037 6012-2351564 faizal_7177@oum.edu.my

LEARNING CENTRE

PPT PETALING JAYA

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TABLE OF CONTENTS ______________________________________________________________________________ ITEM PAGE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

2.0 ONLINE LEARNERS COMMON PROBLEMS 2.1 STUDENT ANTIPATHY GROUP WORK 2.2 THE SELECTION OF THE GROUP 2.3 A LACK OF ESSENTIAL GROUP-WORK SKILLS 2.4 THE FREE-RIDER 2.5 THE WITHDRAWAL OF GROUP MEMBERS 2.6 THE ASSESSMENT OF INDIVIDUALS WITHIN THE GROUPS

2 2-3 3 3-4 4-5 5 5-6

3.0 ONLINE CLASSES VS. TRADITIONAL CLASSES

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4.0 LEARNING METHODOLOGIES 4.1 TIME MANAGEMENT 4.2 INDEPENDENT STUDY SKILLS 4.3 LIFE AND CAREER SKILLS

7 7 7 7

5.0 CONCLUSION

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6.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

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1.0 INTRODUCTION

Online learning can sound so wonderful that some students start with an unrealistic vision. In reality, online courses require just as much, if not more, time and energy as traditional classroom courses. It also needs specific computer skills and learning strategies in order to succeed. Online learning is totally different from traditional classroom learning. Online courses are conducted via the Internet. Coursework will take place online and accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week either at home, at school, or wherever you have access to a computer and also internet. Without class lectures to spur that quick burst of activity to complete the project or to brush up for the test, some students procrastinate through weeks of the semester, only to find themselves so far behind that they could never catch up. It is recommend that online learners work out with typical weekly schedule - on paper - so that they will have a general guide for scheduling periods of time to study and to complete their course assignments. Online learning required to be self-directed, self-motivated and self-disciplined to keep up with their course commitments.

2.0 ONLINE LEARNERS COMMON PROBLEMS

There are a variety of possible reasons that could be supported with some justification. Amongst the problems that are thought to be inherent to this method of teaching, the most commonly found in the literature are the followings:

2.1 Student antipathy towards group work. Some students do not care for the idea of group work and can be apathetic, or even on occasions actively hostile to the whole idea. Why should this be so? Given that it is relatively commonplace for students to voluntarily congregate in groups to discuss

__________________________________________________________________OUMH11103 assignment problems and solutions outside of class times, it would seem especially surprising. Commonly expressed student views against involvement in group work include: I study best on my own I have no need to work in a group I cant spare the time to meet and communicate with others Others in the group are less capable

Although some students may be genuinely concerned, experience shows that if their initial antipathy can be overcome, many will come to appreciate the advantages that a group learning environment can provide

2.2 The selection of the groups Selection of groups tends to be easier in an online environment. Two problems common in the face-to-face environment are either non-existent, or greatly reduced: the tendency for students to want to be in a group with friends, and the difficulty of arranging suitable times when all group members can meet outside of scheduled sessions. How large should each group be? There is no standard answer here that fits all circumstances. Johnson and Johnson (1987) and Kagan (1998) suggest that teams of four work well in a face-to-face setting, while Bean (1996, p160) suggests groups of five or six work best. However, arguments based on group dynamics are less applicable in an online environment, where both small and large groups can work well, depending upon the context, and the size and complexity of the group task. How should the membership of each group be determined? There are several solutions here, but letting students choose their own groups is not usually one of them. The method presents too many complications in the online environment.

2.3 A lack of essential group-work skills Simply placing students in groups and telling them to work together does not in and of itself result in cooperative efforts. There are many ways in which group efforts can go wrong. So say Johnson and Johnson (1994: p57), and of course they are quite right. Educators need to foster students group skills over time, building more 3

__________________________________________________________________OUMH11103 complex group activities as students become more familiar with the group context. (Teaching & Assessment Network, 1999: p5). Burdett (2003: p179) stresses the point that: group work can be hard work emotionally and intellectually; and that this fact is sometimes overlooked by group work advocates and practitioners. In situations where students who have not previously been introduced to group work, and lack the necessary skills, any instructor who uses group work as a major component, and does not prepare the students appropriately, is almost inevitably condemning the students to a traumatic and probably unproductive experience. This is certainly one of the major reasons why some instructors choose to revert to more traditional methods.

2.4 The free-rider The free-rider effect (Kerr and Bruun , 1983) is probably the most commonly cited disadvantage of group work; that is, when one or more students in the group does little or no work, thereby contributing almost nothing to the well being of the group, and consequently decreasing the groups ability to perform to their potential. In many cases, this may multiply into additional unwanted effects: first, of gaining unwarranted marks for the free-rider; second, of damaging the morale of the other members of the group; and third, of lowering the reputation of the educator and the institution for fair dealing and justice in assessment.

An example of this attitude is illustrated by Burdett (2003: p178), quoting a University of South Australia graduate student: I acknowledge the reasons for including group work as a component of a university course; however due to the nature of groups, it usually falls to one or two individuals to do the bulk of the work. As a student motivated to achieve the best results of which I am capable, I find it frustrating that not only do other students get a free ride so to speak, but that through being forced to work in groups, the task becomes more difficult than it would have been if done alone. (University of South Australia, 2001)

__________________________________________________________________OUMH11103 Levin (2002b: p3) states that the educator may be the last person to know that there are students who consider that there is a free-rider hiding in their group. Students are likely to feel that the issue is one that they should deal with themselves, and be reluctant to tell tales on a fellow student. It is appropriate then that educators pride an environment in which students involved in group work indicate the responsibilities they will be undertaking within the group, as a means of maintaining the integrity of the group and as a way to lessen the free-rider effect.

2.5 The withdrawal of group members, and In circumstances where the group member drops out very early in the course, or does not play a vital role within the group, it may be appropriate to take little action other than a minor reassignment of roles, which could be managed by the instructor, or by the group members themselves, or a combination of both. In some instances, constant monitoring of the group may be enough to alert others to the possibility of such an occurrence, which can then lead to early intervention before the matter becomes crucial.

2.6 The assessment of individuals within the groups The traditional view of assessment has always been something along the following lines: assessment is about grading. One or more instructors assess the work of the students, with the primary and perhaps sole - aim of assigning fair and appropriate grades to each of the students at the end of the course. An alternative view, and one that has claimed a large number of adherents in recent years, is that assessment can and should play a vital part in the learning process itself (Bain, 2004; Roberts, 2005). No matter where one stands on this issue, however, at the end of the day, individual students must be assessed. How can this be done fairly if group work is used?

Assigning group grades without attempting to distinguish between individual members of the group is both unfair and deleterious to the learning process, for many reasons which should be apparent from earlier discussion, and may in some circumstances even be illegal (Kagan, 1997; Millis and Cottell, 1998). 5

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Specifically talking about group work, Webb (1994) stated that the purpose of assessment is to measure group productivity but then went on to stress that another purpose of assessment is to measure students ability to interact, work, and collaborate with others and to function effectively as members of a team. Team effectiveness involves many dynamic processes including, for example, coordination, communication, conflict resolution, decision-making, problem solving, and negotiation.

Several effective solutions may be employed to do exactly as Webb suggested, that is, to measure group productivity and to measure the individual students abilities within the group. Exactly which of the solutions is the most appropriate will depend upon the circumstances.

3.0 ONLINE CLASSES VS. TRADITIONAL CLASSES

Online classes and traditional classes are two types of learning. They both cater to almost the same kind of education and offer quality learning. It will also have teachers, and students will be following course outlines of the lessons, and examinations involved in the lessons. Online classes are usually for independent students. They do not have any classmates. Its just students and the teacher. The class functions on an hourly basis. While in traditional classes only have classmates and peers, they will also have different teachers, and students will be spending the whole day in school depending on their age.

Online classes and traditional classes greatly differ in the effect of learning. In traditional classes, students will have more hands-on activity than online classes. In traditional classes, most materials are provided by the school while in online classes students would be the one to provide all their materials needed. Whats also good about online classes is students can automatically research about the assignments given on the Internet. Their resources are available on the Internet. In traditional classes, students cant automatically do the research in school especially

__________________________________________________________________OUMH11103 when there is no access to computers or other research materials. Not all schools have complete research materials like public schools.

4.0 LEARNING METHODOLOGIES There are many essential skills that will help online learners to manage their lives more successfully. Skills like: 4.1 Time Management Quality online schooling at home provides the flexibility to use an individualized learning approach and to structure the school day according to the individual needs of the student. Schedule flexibility teaches students to manage their time responsibly and allow them to learn how to juggle extracurricular activities and appointments, or handle unexpected interruptions. They have the chance to realize that creating and adhering to their own schedule is crucial to their own success. And with the daily use of scheduling tools in an online learning environment, the student can be an active participant in managing his or her own time. 4.2 Independent Study Skills Most of online school students learn how to chart their own paths and follow that direction in a manner that best suits their unique situations. By setting their own goals, they learn independence and responsibility. Many online schools provide opportunities for self-paced learning and uniquely teach students how to be independent in their studiesan important skill to have for the even more self-directed learning requirements of college. 4.3 Life and Career Skills An online learning environment fosters learning, communication, and technology skills that prepare students for the 21st century workforce. As online school students enter their virtual classroom every day, the use of technology becomes an essential part of completing their schoolwork, researching and organizing information for their next essay, and communicating with teachers and fellow classmates. So when students finally do apply for a job, their information, media, and technology knowledge is not a skill, it is simply intuitive.

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5.0 CONCLUSION

The responses of these successful online students highlight several techniques instructors can use to help their students develop effective online learning skills. Most important is a students ability to develop a time-management strategy to help manage course requirements as an independent learner.

The instructor can also encourage students to apply concepts from the online courses, or as on the importance of developing and asking thoughtful questions as a technique to engage both fellow students and the instructor.

Staying motivated in the class is a challenge for students studying independently. Students who develop a personal motivation strategy find it a great asset to the online learning experience, one that can keep them from losing interest or burning out.

Another technique the successful online students in this study agree on is the importance of making a connection with fellow students. Students who develop a meaningful connection with their fellows can receive and pro-step for instructors teaching an online course is to recognize that a different set of student skills may be required for students to get good grades (indicating that they have achieved the desired understanding of the subject) and to get the most from an online course. The techniques identified by successful online students can promote a rich learning experience for other students and provide a foundation for them to develop these skills.

Finally, feeling lost while all others continue with the lesson will quickly deflate a confident level. What are the odds of continuing with program when you feel like failure? While thousands of people do benefit from open distance learning every year, it is or its not the best type of learning environment for everyone and its depended to individual to choose. Weigh all of your options and consider what type of student you were in the past as well as what are the problems faced by open distance learners in the last few years. In the long run, you could 8

__________________________________________________________________OUMH11103 discover an educational program that fits your needs, whether that is with a traditional style of formal education or an open distance learning education.

6.0 RECOMMENDATIONS * Goals Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. Do you want money for school? A new career? Wealth beyond belief? Its all there. Just be honest with yourself on what goal you are aim for and be realistic about how long you are willing to work at it. * Focus A former marketing mentor of mine used to drill home to us reps the following slogan: You are what u thinking. How many e-books and trainings promising online income have you taken so far? Did you start them all? Did you finish any of them? Are you making any progress? If not, I suggest you pick one idea and stick with it. You may surprise yourself at what you might achieve. * Positive Attitude Do not expect success if you fall for all that media negativity so prevalent today. Im referring to all that stuff on CNN and rant radio. Get your head out of there unless it pertains to you personally which it doesnt. Overexposure to news will make you prone to despondency if youre not careful.

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REFERENCES

1. James Martell (2011), 7 Essential Skills Needed For Online Success, www.jamesmartell.com

2. Pamela Rice-Linn (2011), Problems Faced by Open Distance Learners, www.brighthub.com

3. Alan R. Roper (2007), How Students Develop Online Learning Skills www.educause.edu

4. Joan Saliskas (2011), Tips for Success in Online Learning www.how-to-study.com

5. Sharon Balke (2011), What Makes a Successful Online Learner? www.iseek.org 6. Sarah (2010), Difference between Online Education VS. Traditional Education www.oceans-research.org

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