Inexpensive check, Flexible check, Dynamic and engaging check. Yes, online learning checks all the right boxes. Then why do 52% of students drop out from an online course after registering for it? Well, something isn’t working. The last year and a half have been quite the roller-coaster ride. The pandemic hit us out of the blue. Since then, we have been living in a loosely knit plot of a post-apocalyptic novel. Everything around us has changed – how we live, how we love, and how we learn. That brings us to online learning – the only feasible method to teach and learn. But is everything hunky-dory in the virtual world of Skype calls, GMeet sessions, and student-teacher collaborative tools? On that note, here are the 8 most common reasons online learning fails students, along with workable solutions. Let’s dive into the deep, shall we?
8 Hurdles Students Face in Online Learning with Solutions
1. Difficulty to adapt can be demotivating
Students were used to the traditional setting of a professor addressing and teaching a class all this time. However, the sudden switch to online learning has made it difficult for most students to adapt to the new environment. A significant reason students cannot adapt to online learning is the complexity of the platform. So, what can be done?
- Students must be trained to use and optimize online learning best tools so they can thrive in online classes.
- Schools and educational boards can supply students with answers to FAQs regarding online learning and how to make the process more productive.
- The same goes for teachers as well. Unless teachers are familiar with e-learning, they won’t be able to guide students any better.
Learn from what California State University did with the Learning Online 101 initiative to help students adapt to online learning management.
2. Having the wrong expectations can build up frustration
Students often have certain conceptions about a course they enroll in. Many times, students drop out of an online course because they thought it would be less demanding or less time management. But this communication gap can undoubtedly be bridged. Here’s how!
Online courses must come with detailed annexures with the following information:
- The duration of the course with the breaks, tests, and everything included
- The level of training and topics to be covered
- The frequency of assignments and projects, along with the marking rubric
- Course outcomes and skills gained on completion of each module
This way, the students would know what they are signing up for – the time and effort they will have to put in, the assignments they will have to turn in, etc.
3. Technical glitches and breakdowns can be annoying
Well, this one is a given when it comes to anything online. Just like a technical glitch can make small business owners lose deals of millions, a technical issue can taint the e-learning experience, too. Bugs and buffering on e-learning platforms often demotivate students.
But with the spurt in demand for e-learning due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a rapid increase in traffic and a huge server load can cause frequent crashes. So, what is the solution in that case?
- Schools and colleges must ensure students have the proper devices, connections, and other requisites for online learning.
- Educators can use a content delivery network or CDN to create a scalable server infrastructure.
4. Poor time management and excessive flexibility
Online learning offers flexibility for students to learn at their pace – however, they want and whenever they want. But too much flexibility has led to complacency in students while attending online classes from the comfort of their homes. Without a proper schedule, most students have listless days marked with phases of procrastination. This inability to manage time efficiently is why several students abandon online courses.
- Educators must use real-time techniques to ensure that students are as attentive during an online class as they would be during an on-campus class.
- Teachers must set deadlines for tasks to keep students on their toes to an extent.
- Students can use time management apps like schedule planners and reminder apps to manage all tasks and be productive.
5. Lack of motivation
Take the pandemic as an example. The uncertainty surrounding the situation has made each one of us question our futures. With schools and colleges shutting gates almost overnight, students felt trapped in an ambush. In such circumstances, it is only reasonable to feel anxious and demotivated. But things do not have to be blue all the time!
- Even if virtual, students must be engaged with to break the spell of social isolation on them.
- Educators and trainers must focus on the physical and mental health of students.
- Teachers can help students create a roadmap with clear milestones to make it easier to track their progress.
- Making students participate in a collaborative group project can evoke a sense of community in students and keep them engaged.
6. The lack of human contact can make it impersonal
Yes, you don’t have to wake up early morning and rush to college for a class. But the lack of communication with classmates and teachers can be frustrating. Most importantly, social engagement can make learning more engaging almost 10X. So, how do you maintain social distancing norms while ensuring engagement?
Since students learn more by interacting with others and observing the world around them, the following online learning techniques can create openings for interaction within the virtual world.
- Group projects
- Frequent webinars
- Regular discussion on online forums
- friendly debates and competitions
- Fun activities to participate in as a community
7. Too much information can be overwhelming
When you look at a module of an online course, the entirety of the curriculum can be overwhelming. Online courses are like a massive project you embark on, and it is completely okay to feel a little lost. So, where do you start? Here are some tips:
- Use the technique of microlearning – a method that can improve e-learning engagement by almost 50%.
- Break down the entire module into smaller tasks to make the course more approachable and doable.
- Experiment your way around the different modes of online learning.
- Understand which medium is for you – readable content, viewable videos, or audio clips.
- Accordingly, try written resources, TED-Ed’s short educational videos, or audiobooks & podcasts.
Once you find an approach on your eLearning platform that you are comfortable with, the cumbersome topics will become easier to handle. With time, the finish line will also become easy to visualize.
8. Not knowing where to go with queries
It is easy for students to go up to teachers or visit their offices with queries in a traditional classroom. Even the shyest students can walk to a friend in class and ask for help. But, the picture becomes a different one when it comes to online education. It is only normal for students to feel isolated and lost. So, what to do?
- Educators must always be very vocal about assuring students that they are there to help when they face problems.
- Next, teachers must create an omnichannel to make teacher-student communication easy.
- Let students know you are available on email or instant messaging apps to answer their questions.
- Connect with your students on a social media community without being overbearing or prying.
- You can also create group chats on an instant messenger app to bring your students together, so none of them feel isolated.
- Give introverted and shy students the option to ask questions anonymously using survey platforms like Google Forms.
The only constant in life changes, and we have no choice but to adapt to such abrupt changes. One such sudden change in the lives of educators and learners has been the realm of online learning. Like everything in this world, online learning is plagued by a set of challenges, too. However, none of them are insurmountable hurdles. So, take note of the solutions and do your bit to make e-learning a success story for the long run.