The Challenges of Online Learning: An Interview with Natalie Reed
Keywords:Covid-19, Isolation, Online Learning, Motivation, Self-Regulation, Interaction
Although online learning has shown significant growth since last decade, it has never been considered as seriously as during this uncertain period of isolation when the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has moved rapidly across the world in 2020 and affected the education system worldwide. Thus, it is important to examine advantages and disadvantages of online learning, especially in the current lockdown situation. Some previous studies demonstrated that online learning can offer flexibility for learning in terms of financial positions, learners’ availability, easy accessibility, mobility and other factors (Bowers & Kumar, 2015; Merhi, 2011). As a result, online learning technologies have become more popular in the educational system. Thousands of college students use online platforms and technologies to submit their homework, assignments, and quizzes. In fact, the rapid growth of online learning has enabled learners to access education at any time and from any place (Merhi, 2015).
However, at the same time, there are concerns regarding low rates of student engagement and high erosion rates in online programs and courses. For instance, studies have reported a non-completion rate of 75% in multiple courses (Jun, 2005; Rochester & Pradel, 2008). Different factors such as lack of motivation, lack of contextual support strategies, and technological impediments can be considered for the high erosion rates in online learning contexts (Broadbent & Poon, 2015; Chen & Jang, 2010; Smith & Ayers, 2006). Studies have also examined the application of various self-regulated learning approaches in online learning contexts and shown that online programs require learners to demonstrate higher levels of self-regulation, self-motivation, and time commitment in compassion with traditional face-to-face learning (Broadbent & Poon, 2015; Serwatka, 2003). Besides the self-regulation strategies, contextual support is important in online courses. Online students need a variety of support and interaction from their teachers, tutors and even peers (Chen & Jang, 2010). Some studies have demonstrated that not being present in the same location at the same time eradicates the chance for immediate social interactions to take place among teachers and students in online learning (Smart & Cappel, 2006). Thus, learners in online learning environments have negative feelings such as confusion isolation, anxiety, and frustration (Piccoli, Ahmad, & Ives, 2001). Moreover, some studies have reported that lack of instructor presence could lead to student disengagement. Research have pointed out that students are more likely reluctant to online learning when they perceive a lack of social interactions and instructor presence (Capra, 2011; Trello, 2007).
By the way, online learning is becoming a reality of our education system in a time when the world self-isolates. The UK has not been excluded from this situation and its education process has changed since the spring semester of 2020. The UK became one of 188 countries having suspended the education process. So, the country has decided to continue the education
through the online form of distance learning such as online portals, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams or platforms like Zoom, Slack and Google Meet and even intelligent online learning programs like Tassomai, Memrise, and Mathletics. Thus, in order to find some answers to our questions about the challenges and issues of online learning that colleges and students have faced during the current lockdown situation, we conducted an interview with Natalie Reed who is the Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning in Regents Park Community College Southampton, the UK.