Teaching Online: Communication, Interaction and Education

Introduction

Human beings are able to share various ideas and information through the many channels of communication available to them. The exchange of ideas enables human beings to express their feelings to others and at the same time learn valuable aspects of their lives and the environment (Vai 2011). Therefore, communication is inseparable from human life regardless of an individual’s age, profession or social backgrounds. This essay establishes the link between communication and interaction and online distance education systems.

Communication and Interaction

In this segment, there are interaction levels in a learning institution that admits students from diverse backgrounds. The most significant interactions in any learning environment occur between these groups of participants; teachers and students, students and their peers and students and learning materials. These levels of interactions are inevitable in any learning institution since they facilitate knowledge transfer.

In the first level of interaction between teachers and students, there are several approaches that will facilitate online communication and learning. The common method of communication is through electronic mails known as emails. This is the easiest means of communication that enables teachers to send information to students at the click of a computer’s mouse button (Ko and Rossen 2010). Teachers prepare educational materials and instructions which are sent to students’ email addresses. At the same time, students are able to read their teachers’ instructions and respond to them either by providing answers to questions or seeking clarifications about the tasks at hand. Teachers are able to send a single message to students and give instructions on their deadlines.

On the other hand, students are able to share information through emails in cases where they are to conduct group assignments. They distribute tasks among themselves and each student conduct an independent research on their task (Vai 2011). After completing their work, they present to the group and discuss the best way for their class presentation. This enables them to work from their homes or hostels without necessarily attending group meetings. Finally, they organize their work in accordance with their teachers’ demands and present their work through emails.

Moreover, teachers can use social network sites to interact with students and exchange vital information about their class work. These sites include Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo and Google. The sites facilitate quick transfer of information between teachers and learners since they are able to send and receive immediate feedback to their messages. They enable teachers and pupils to share vital information within a short time.

At the same time, students are able to share information through these social sites whenever need arises. This is probably, one of the easiest ways through which, students interact with teachers and among themselves since they are attracted to social sites more than any other site. Therefore, the probability of them visiting these sites is high compared to other sites.

Learning institutions have established websites that provide vital information to students and teachers. Teachers usually post key notes and updates on the institution’s websites to enable learners know their learning programs. Teachers and students have passwords that enable them to access these sites (Vai 2011). Students are able to access assignments, get reading materials and information about examinations. In addition, changes in classes, examinations or deadlines for assignments are posted as soon as they are available. Students ensure they visit their school’s websites in order to keep to date with the happenings at school.

The information presented in these sites is in different forms. Instructors can provide reading materials and questions to learners and expect them to work on them within given deadlines. These materials may be in the form of print, video or audio. The data may be case studies or direct questions. However, the means of presenting this data depend on the level of comprehension by teachers and students (Vai 2011). Some students are slow learners and can not easily comprehend instructions while others have physical disabilities. Therefore, teachers must observe these aspects before deciding to present their ideas to learners.

Distance Education System

Modern technology has made it possible for people to share information all over the world without physical contact. The presence of computers, mobile phones, televisions and fax machines enable people to receive and send messages irrespective of the distance between them. Learning has derived many benefits courtesy of these developments and thus the process has become easier and faster (Smith 2008). Distance learning involves the interaction between teachers and students without attending physical classes.

However, before this learning succeeds it is necessary to put some issues to consideration. These issues are either functions or personnel that need attention before developing the online course structures.

Just like any other learning program, distance learning must conform to the recommended education standards. Therefore, the information used in distance learning must meet all the standards of traditional class room learning (Vai 2011). This means that the information must originate from credible sources like qualified instructors and academic materials. The organizers include the academic staffs that are in charge of planning various academic sessions at the institution. These stakeholders must be included in planning this program to ensure it is in accordance with their daily routines.

Their designs must correspond to the existing education plans and systems to enable teachers and learners to use the program effectively (Ko and Rossen 2010). It is crucial to consult qualified and experienced designers to ensure teachers and students navigate these sites with ease. However, the ability of individuals to use any design relies on their level of exposure to computer and internet applications. Basic computer knowledge is not sufficient to warrant proper use of these programs, but designers must ensure their designs are not too much detailed to warrant extra training on them. Conversely, the design needs to be as comprehensive as possible to accommodate easy location and a visit to parts of the site.

The mode of delivery is most likely to be typed or printed data. However, there is the need to have other modes of delivery on standby in order to enable students with disabilities make use of this provision (Smith 2008). It is crucial to involve the use of all forms of communication to ensure the data is available to everyone despite their disabilities.

These programs must provide the traditional learning aspects to teachers and students. There must be discussions, questions, updates and clarifications just the way normal class sessions operate. Even though, there is a limited time to make lengthy discussions the little time available must be used effectively. Therefore, these programs must ensure there are no discussion boundaries between teachers and students.

Lastly, distance learning must be taken with stringent seriousness. The absence of physical contacts between teachers and learners should not be an excuse for them to under estimate the value of an effective learning environment (Vai 2011). All distracters like noise, sleep, lack of interest and friends should be put at bay while classes are in progress.

Conclusion

The relationship between teachers and students play vital roles in determining the value of learning. There must be an unconditional positive interaction between them to facilitate effective learning. Distance learning seems to attract many learning institutions and students due to its benefits. However, teachers and students must ensure they undertake distance learning sessions with utmost seriousness like ordinary class sessions.

References

Ko, S. and Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching Online: A Practical Guide. New York: Routledge Publishers.

Smith, R. M. (2008). Conquering the Content: A Step by Step Guide to Online Course Design. New Jersey: Jossey-Bass.

Vai, M. (2011). Essentials of Online Course Design: A Standards Based Guide. New York: Routledge Publishers.