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Ashford Online Proposal, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1262

Essay

Introduction

The development of a planning strategy to accommodate specific needs or weaknesses within an organization requires a greater understanding of the impact of these decisions on the lives of those who are directly affective by them. To be specific, the online educational experience is relatively new, but it now has been in existing for a sufficient period of time in order to identify areas where programs and methods are strong and others are weak. This is a difficult situation to master because there is generally no face-to-face communication and verbalization that takes place when these programs are exclusively online. However, the online university format is filled with problems and difficulties, most of which may be overcome with patience and open communication regarding these issues. It is important to identify problems and to address them with administrative officials and educators as best as possible to avoid challenges over the long term. The following discussion will address a common problem in the online educational community, particularly when technology-based breakdowns occur and thereby disrupt the learning experience. This problem will be considered in further detail in order to develop a planning strategy that will better accommodate this practice and its impact on student learning over time.

Body

Technological interruptions or breakdowns are common in many areas of life and generally do not cripple routine activities under extreme circumstances. However, for students enrolled in online courses, these efforts may be difficult to overcome and represent a challenge to the status quo that may not only disrupt learning during isolated events, but could also impact grades and the successful completion of a given course of study over the long term. In these cases, it is known that “breakdowns can occur at any point along the system, for example, the server which hosts the program could crash and cut all participants off from the class; a participant may access the class through a networked computer which could go down; individual PCs can have numerous problems which could limit students’ access; finally, the Internet connection could fail, or the institution hosting the connection could become bogged down with users and either slow down, or fail all together. In situations like these, the technology is neither seamless nor reliable and it can detract from the learning experience” (Illinois Online Network, 2013). In this context, it is likely that these failures in communication may ultimately prohibit students from completing their education in the desired timeframe if these glitches occur at inopportune times, such as exams. If this is the case, the teacher must be able to not only believe the circumstances and what has exactly taken place, but also give the student the benefit of the doubt and to take the steps that are required to give the student a second change when the circumstances require. It is expected that these efforts will provide greater evidence of the ability of teachers and students to effectively interact at all times and to even develop effective student-teacher relationships, even if they do not communicate face to face.

The efforts that are made by teachers and administrators to understand the potential for technology-based breakdowns also feeds into the personalities of these teachers. In some instances, For example, “If facilitators are not properly trained in online delivery and methodologies, the success of the online program will be compromised… An online instructor must be able to compensate for lack of physical presence by creating a supportive environment in the Virtual Classroom where all students feel comfortable participating and especially where students know that their instructor is accessible” (Illinois Online Network, 2013). In other words, if the instructor is ill-prepared to manage routine online coursework and interactions, it is unlikely that he or she will be able to understand the true impact of technology-based breakdowns or glitches that may disrupt student performance (Illinois Online Network, 2013). It is expected that teachers administering online courses will be prepared for many different scenarios that may disrupt progress for students and should be able to provide contingency plans for periods when these circumstances take place (Illinois Online Network, 2013). Even the most perfect technology-based system is imperfect in many ways; therefore, teachers and administrators working for online universities must be willing to take the steps that are necessary to allow students to have a fair chance to complete their assignments and to contribute to the course, even when these issues take place.

College and university administrators working for online universities must also be willing to work effectively with students in order to overcome technological glitches and to provide adequate solutions so that student performance is taken seriously at all times. Students must be provided with a chance to be recognized for their efforts and to adequately contribute to the class, even when disruptions are likely to occur. In these instances, it is important to identify the specific areas where there are weaknesses so that administrators develop contingency plans to allow individuals to take the steps that are necessary to accommodate students under a variety of scenarios. These efforts must also support the continuous development of new ideas and approaches to improve student performance in the online setting.

The creation of an effective learning environment in the online setting also requires a greater understanding of the different elements that may contribute to negative outcomes, such as technological concerns and other problems that prohibit the completion of assignments and/or exams. Under these conditions, administrators must develop contingency plans to allow students to finish their assignments without penalty. This is an important area of focus that online universities must address on a regular basis in order to accomplish the desired objectives so that all students are given a fair option to complete their required assignments. At the same time, efforts must be made that will attempt to reduce these instances from occurring in the first place, at least on the academic side of the process. These efforts will also provide greater support for the development of new ideas and approaches to ensure that student academic performance is not minimized in any way and that problems with technology are taken seriously and are addressed as quickly as possible. This approach will demonstrate a commitment to student learning and the willingness to take the steps that are required to achieve greater outcomes for this online student population as best as possible so that learning is continuous and is not disrupted in any fashion by technological complications.

Conclusion

The online learning environment is highly beneficial in many ways, but it also produces specific challenges that do not occur in traditional classroom settings. Teachers and administrators alike must identify areas where weaknesses persist and develop new strategies to plan for these concerns and accommodate the circumstances that occur. For example, the development of new ideas and approaches to learning in an online format may lead to technological glitches with computers, servers, and other instruments that may prohibit students from completing their assignments in a timely manner. If the problem is directly related to technology, then the issue is clearly out of the control of the student, who should not be penalized for these events. Therefore, teachers and administrators must be able to recognize that occasional glitches will occur that may prohibit the completion of assignments or exams in some cases. It is the responsibility of the teacher and the administrative team to assess these situations and to take them seriously in an effort to improve potential outcomes for students in these settings to allow them to achieve the desired level of academic performance.

References

Illinois Online Network (2013). Weaknesses of online learning. Retrieved from http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/overview/weaknesses.asp

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