This series of journal entries displays reflection and reflexivity on the experience of online learning from the learner’s perspective. Key findings indicate that the expectations did not align with the reality of online learning, and a newfound independence was discovered. New and exciting ways of integrating technology into teaching have been explored and a more structured approach will be implemented using the SAMR model. Furthermore, while the learning needs of colleagues from the same institution may be opposing, this is not reflective of one’s suitability for online study.
Keywords: Reflection, reflexivity, SAMR.
Expectations of Online Learning
Embarking on an online learning journey is not something that I sought out. The first reason for this, is that I was doubtful of my ability to succeed outside of a face-to-face context. I had only ever experienced face-to-face learning prior to enrolling in the Graduate Certificate of Learning and Teaching, as I enjoyed the structure of having a set time and place to attend. I also blame my ignorance of modern online courses for my apprehension. I had often heard about online learning in the context of questioning its effectiveness when compared to fully face-to-face courses. In fact, the majority of times that I had heard online learning mentioned in a conversation, its efficiency came up as a point of contention. Needless to say, these conversations made online learning somewhat off-putting to me.
Fast forward to taking on my current role as Food and Beverage Manager of the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, where I am responsible for all practical elements of the food and beverage aspects of the curriculum. Deepening my knowledge of learning and teaching in higher education is imperative to fulfilling my role; therefore, when the opportunity presented itself to further my studies, I felt it was important to do so, regardless of my reservations.
I now understand that the notion of traditional methods of instruction in teaching being more effective than online teaching, is built upon a flawed concept: that face-to-face teaching is qualitatively consistent, which it is not. The issues found in online education are frequently due to poor design. This concern is also found in face-to-face education (Haynes, 2017).
Online study and its resources are growing exponentially. The way that students and employers view online courses and degrees is substantially different from what that view may have been years ago.
The My Reality of Online Study
I have come to realise that my previous view of online study was, to put it simply, wrong. I first had the view that there was too much freedom, resulting in “analysis paralysis” or the “paradox of choice”, where because I had the choice of various ways to go about my learning, getting started on anything was extremely difficult for fear of making the wrong choice (Schwartz, 2005). My current view is that the reduction of constraints allows me the freedom to let my personal and professional identity show through my work.
Figure 1. The Paradox of Choice Diagram (Kane, 2015).
Through my journey of online studies from a learner’s perspective, I have discovered that I am in fact quite an independent learner. I am aware of my existing and changing learning needs (Zimmerman, 1986). This is contradictory to what I had initially thought about myself. I have found that while I do enjoy the face-to-face interactions that come with a traditional classroom setup, I have discovered a newfound independence in online learning.
Using My Knowledge
Trying out new technologies has been very exciting to me. It has been incredibly beneficial to have a platform to apply what I have been learning throughout this course. When I first began implementing digital technologies into my teaching, it was quite experimental. I thought I would simply throw a few things out to see what stuck. It was definitely fun for both myself and the students, but I now intend to take a more structured and deliberate approach. The SAMR model created by Puentedura (2014) will support me in ensuring that I understand the exact effects and benefits that the implemented technology will have on student learning. I can identify that I am at the augmentation stage of the model with some of the technologies that I have implemented. I have introduced an online quiz platform as a tool to substitute verbal in-class knowledge checks, but it also acts as a tool to engage and enhance discussion of the presented topics.
Figure 2. The SAMR model (Walsh, 2015).
I now understand the importance of authenticity in teaching. It is not good enough to add technologies just for the sake of it. I relish the idea of a structured methodology to evaluating classroom approaches, and I intend to use the SAMR model to work toward teaching “above the line”, and to enable upward movement toward modification and redefinition (Puentedura, 2014).
It is very interesting that two different people can look at the same thing and see it from significantly differing points of view. It has been an interesting journey to discover that although a colleague of mine and I both work within the same team, with the same resources and students, our approach to both learning and teaching is substantially different. Through conversation, I have discovered that our expectations and our needs as online learners learners contrast. As discussed by Mupinga, Nora and Yaw (2006) the learning needs of online learners mimic those of learners in a face-to-face learning environment. It is not that either my colleague or I am better suited to online learning, but that we simply have differing needs. As previously mentioned, I had apprehensions regarding the potential isolation of online learning. I have since found a strength and focus in the isolation that may not have emerged in a different learning context.
I have made another notable discovery through online and in person interactions: that disagreeing with others allows me to solidify my own opinions. It has been interesting to discover my view of certain topics can emerge through discussing it with others and realising that my opinion does not match theirs.
When beginning this course, I had a slight inferiority complex. Coming from a practical teaching environment, I did not initially see that I do in fact have something to contribute to my academic lecturer counterparts. I have an increasing interest and awareness in learning and teaching theories which have allowed me to have some very meaningful conversations with lecturers, sharing knowledge and resources. This has been a boost for me as in my workplace, there is at times an obvious barrier between the operations department, which I am a part of, and the academic team. This is a great start at bridging the gap between us and I look forward to more active engagement.
Haynes, C. (2017). Breaking Through the Stigma of Online Education. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/views/2017/05/24/breaking-stigma-online-education
Mupinga, Nora, and Yaw (2006). The learning styles, expectations, and needs of online students http://web.simmons.edu/~brady/CE/Reading%202.pdf
Puentedura, R. (2014). What is the SAMR Model? [Video file]. Retrieved
Kane, B. (2015). The Science of Analysis Paralysis: How Overthinking Kills Your Productivity & What You Can Do About It. https://blog.todoist.com/2015/07/08/analysis-paralysis-and-your-productivity/
Schwartz, B (2005) Ted Global: The Paradox of Choice. [Video file]. Retrieved
Walsh, K. (2015) 8 Examples of Transforming Lessons Through the SAMR Cycle. https://www.emergingedtech.com/2015/04/examples-of-transforming-lessons-through-samr/
Zimmerman, B.J. (1986). Becoming a self-regulated learner: Which are the key sub processes? Contemporary Educational Psychology. 11. 307-313.