Learning Minds Special
Ms Yan Jiejun, a public service officer in her 30s, has completed not one but two online courses over the last three years.
She said: “If you love learning, it can be quite addictive. I started off by watching videos or reading course materials through the Coursera app on my iPad. Eventually, I enrolled and completed the seven-week curriculum on Human-Centred Design by +Acumen and IDEO, and a master’s level certification on Organisational Analysis offered by Stanford University.”
Ms Yan is not alone in taking up the challenge of studying part-time while working full-time. Degree programmes from universities around the world are increasingly being offered with online components, as affordable fibre and mobile broadband technology makes it easier to learn on the go.
Here’s a look at the wired life of the new digital adult learner.
Many components of adult schooling life are within easy reach of your fingertips.
You are likely to find yourself added to an online forum, chat group or a Facebook page that connects you to your coursemates. Besides instantaneous networking, the app-based environment also makes arranging group discussions and project collaborations easier.
Cloud software like Google Docs enables you and your teammates to work together on assignments across multiple devices.
Mobile connectivity and digital learning solutions free working adults from fixed time tables.
Online resources and e-learning tools help facilitate delivery of learning anytime and anywhere. This gives you flexibility to manage your time and learn at your own pace.
Group chats and cloud-based apps allow you to be “present” in project discussions or collaborate with coursemates even when you’re overseas. Then, there are also apps that allow you to take your assignments, tests and quizzes online.
With message boards, instant messaging and virtual office hours, the tutors are more personable and approachable too.
Multimedia course content can turn the journey of learning into a stimulating and thought-provoking one. Live video and audio footage, slideshows, case studies, photo galleries and interactive infographics are now commonplace on top of FaceTime lectures.
As most lecture notes are available online or emailed to students ahead of class, there is more time for problem-solving, interaction and critical thinking during classroom hours.
Ms Yan, for instance, could download course notes that enabled students to take turns in leading topical discussions. When it came to final assessments, she also got to practise guided peer-grading — an innovative way of getting students to understand a topic inside out while allowing the process to contribute to their final grade.
LEARNING ON DEMAND
Video-conferencing technologies enable guest lecturers and students to participate in discussions instantaneously.
Pre-recorded lectures let you tailor your viewing time to suit your schedule and level of understanding. For instance, if you are familiar with a topic, you can skip certain sections and wrap up a 40-minute lecture in 20 minutes. With a more challenging module, you might choose to replay certain portions instead.
Many institutions also make course content available after each module is completed. This makes it easy for students to catch up if they miss a class because of work or family commitments.