Interactions in Online Education – an Interview With Author Charles Judah

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Do you think online education is as effective as regular education?
Charles Juwah: Yes, provided it is well structured, delivered, assessed and managed. However, online education may be limited in aspects that require physical and direct interpersonal contact. In addition, online education provides the opportunity for flexible,
self-paced and independent learning and convenience for learners who are in full-time work.
What are the minimum interactive tools required online to impart quality learning?
Charles Juwah: There is no right answer here as it depends on what is being learned, the individual needs of the student and the nature of the interaction. Having said that, for meaningful learning, which involves negotiation, higher-order learning, reflection, etc., the following tools are important: browsing tool, communication tool (discussion board), collaboration tool, assessment tool, etc.
Is it important to have a regular interaction between the students and professors? Why?
Charles Juwah: Yes, such interactions enable the learner to seek guidance and support at some stage in the learning process. Also, it enables the learner to seek alternative perspectives which help promote and deepen reflection and enhancement of learning and practice. Interacting with a professor or peers enables the novice to learn from the expert in the form of an ‘apprenticeship model’/situated learning which promotes the learner’s proximal development (Vygotsky 1978).

Should an online teacher go through a proper training session before teaching online?
Charles Juwah: Without a doubt. A tutor who is trained is better equipped to facilitate effective learning as they are well-grounded in the pedagogy of teaching, learning, assessment and learner support. Experience and evidence-based research suggest that trained teachers motivate and engage learners better than teachers without proper online training. Technology has revolutionized education and training. Thus, it is paramount that teachers have the subject expertise, good facilitation skills as well as the grounding on how to use technology to promote effective teaching and learning.
What makes a good online student?
Charles Juwah:

  •  Maturity and a clear sense of purpose
  •  Tenacity
  •  Must possess good cognitive and social presence
  •  Being able to collaborate with others
  •  Being open-minded and being able to deal with unexpected outcomes and to learn from others
  •  An individual who clearly understands that online education is an alternative mode of learning with advantages and limitations (and would not expect a replication face to face type interactions in an online environment)
  • Ability to self regulate and manage own learning and development

What advice would you like to give to students who are considering online education?
Charles Juwah: The learner should be sure that they are happy with this mode of learning and can engage effectively online, as online education is not just an easy option. Sometimes, the going is tough but the learner could only succeed if s/he is fully prepared. That is, she/he must have achieved ‘readiness to learn’. This involves possessing the right maturity, motivation, prior knowledge, adequate information technology, and information literacy skills. In addition, learners should be self-regulated and are able to manage their own learning.

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