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Q&A: One Student’s Journey with Online Learning

September 09, 2016

Emily Henry of Madison, Wis. graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership last year. And she never left Madison to do it.

With a baby at home and a full-time job, Emily – now the associate manager of field marketing at TDS Telecommunications Corp. — needed the flexibility that only online learning gives.

She enrolled in ASU Online to watch lectures and engage with her peers and professors.

Below is a Q&A with Emily about her experiences. While hers is just one student’s journey, her perspective is one that today’s students everywhere share. Online, anytime instruction is a staple, not a luxury. Whether they learn at a distance or attend classes on campus, students expect to have access to their lectures to review anytime, anywhere. Lecture capture takes courses to the next level, proven to increase engagement and student achievement.

So, faculty and course designers: As you welcome your students back to school in the coming days and weeks, let Emily inspire you to make sure all your students have that same opportunity she did.

Q: Why was ASU Online the best fit for you?

A: I tried traditional learning when I started college and discovered right away that it was not going to work for me. I wasn’t engaged in large lecture halls of 500+ people. The size and lack of individualized learning was very intimidating. I went to a very small high school with very individualized learning. My graduating class had 11 people!

I was working full-time and I was having trouble balancing in-person classes with work. I wanted something that would fit around my work schedule, instead of fitting work around my school schedule.

I knew I was going to stay local to Madison so the best option was to start looking at online programs. One of the things I liked at ASU Online was the classes were very small. At some colleges, online programs can still have hundreds of students per class.

Q: How did you learn?

A: A professor gave a 30-60 minute lecture to an in-person class, and that was recorded for me to watch when I was available. The presentations included video of the professor, as well as his or her supporting slides or materials to enhance the learning. Other professors gave me the slides with a voiceover of the lecture.

A few of the courses I took were recorded live so I was able to participate in Q&A with the professor in real-time. Most of the courses were pre-recorded, and I watched on-demand. The biggest benefit of the online learning platforms is you’re able to learn at your own pace whenever it suits your schedule.

Q: How flexible was online learning for you?

A: I could work 9 to 5, have dinner and some leisure time and then spend three to four hours on course work at night. It does take a little bit of getting used to, but the lecturers are great learning tools. They’re a great way to increase the communication between student and professor, because you can email or call your professor with any questions you have from the lecture. I could ask questions right from the video player, as well as answer polls and surveys so professors could gauge how well I understood the material. It made me feel like I was in the classroom with the professor at ASU, despite the distance.

Q: How did having access to lectures help you succeed?

A: I definitely think lecture capture helped with my retention of information. It’s much more appealing to have information from a chapter of a textbook presented and personalized with anecdotes from the instructor versus sitting down and reading 100 pages of that textbook. It really allows you to understand what is important. It helps with retention because you have someone else who is helping you understand and pointing out those important pieces.

It also helped me greatly with some of the exams I took. I would often listen to lectures multiple times to make sure I remembered the information. I really took advantage of the ability to relearn the information as a learning tool.

Q: What advice do you have for students who are taking their first online course this fall?

A: Online learning in general takes a lot of getting used to, because there’s a lot of accountability and it requires more discipline. From my experiences, you have to sit down and say ‘OK, I’m going to listen to this hour-long lecture and then I’m going to complete the discussion homework.’

My biggest piece of advice is to set aside blocks of time to do school work. It’s important that you put aside one to two hours at a time, instead of thinking you’ll fit it into other things.

Especially in courses where the lectures are available on-demand, view them and listen to them multiple times. It’s no different than any other type of learning. If you recite the same thing over and over, you’re going to understand it better.

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