AGC Students Speak Out About Online Learning
by Bob George, September 2003
Kevin MacDonald of Roepnack Corporation says "…online classes are just as effective as in-classroom classes. You cannot sit in the back of the classroom and scoot by, you must participate."
Kevin is correct about the effectiveness of online learning, a form of distance learning. 355 separate studies have found no significant difference between distance learning and in-classroom learning while many other studies find that students, especially adult students, learn more with distance education than with in-classroom learning.
According to James Quinn, John A. Russell Corporation, "Replying to homework questions online allows me to organize my thoughts before sharing them with the class. Also, presenting an opinion or experience with the class is less intimidating than presenting (in person) in a traditional classroom."
It is common for students to find it easier to participate in an online class rather than stand before a regular class to deliver reports. Many women also find online learning to be preferable to sitting in a classroom with a group of male construction workers. Older workers prefer online learning so they don't have to sit in a class filled with younger students.
Freddy Ceballos, of Roepnack Corporation says "I found (my first online course) to be very easy to learn. The teacher is available at all times by email and I can study at home. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet (construction) people from all over the country."
Availability of the teacher is a very important feature of a high quality online course. Students who report bad experiences with online learning almost always attribute the problem to a teacher who was too slow to respond to questions or who did not respond at all.
"My favorite aspect is the opportunity (the web tours provide) to get valuable resources of information online related to the course." said Mariano Licea Jr., Roepnack Corporation.
The Internet is a wonderful resource that is growing daily in both size and value. Having that resource immediately at hand is a great teaching tool that is not available in most regular classrooms. Tours of pertinent web sites help to reinforce the lessons and give students a chance to further study topics of interest.
James Quinn of John A. Russell Corporation writes "The experience of
people holding different positions such as working for an owner, construction
manager, field engineer, project manager, estimator, etc, bring an interesting
and informative array of ideas, approaches and experiences to the lessons we
learn from the course. I also like the pace of the class. I can do the
assignments at my own pace."
Let me close with one more quote from student Kevin MacDonald that pretty well wraps it up for us. "With our busy schedules of today, I think the AGC has hit the nail on the head with online learning."
Thanks, Kevin. My sentiments exactly.
"The No Significant Difference Phenomenon" by
Thomas Russell, 1999, is a compilation of 355 studies. See http://teleeducation.nb.ca/nosignificantdifference/
for more information.