“Reflect on the Web-Conference experience. How was it? What was one thing that you learned?”
My partner, Arleen (and therefore the Web-Conference experience itself), was extremely pleasant. She lives in the Kootenays and is involved with Human Resources at Selkirk College. I was surprised to discover that she used to be in the profession that I am aspiring to enter after this course, which led to a lot of further discussion around unrelated aspects about our lives. We were particularly well-matched, in my opinion.
We did, of course, spend time discussing our two articles as per the assignment requirements, teaching each other and summarizing together. One thing I learned from her explanation of the articles was how online courses can actually help students with social issues, shortcomings, or awkwardness to actually improve these lacking skills and integrate students into physical classrooms in a smoother manner later in life. I was surprised, having worked with students with special needs who naturally invert socially, finding solace in online gaming and/or fantasy worlds on their computers. I would have naturally categorized online classes together in the same vein, promoting further introversion and solitude. Without the anxiety of face-to-face interaction, however, students are still required to communicate with fellow students via other means, initially through email or online forums. As multi-user virtual environments rose in popularity, audio discussion became more frequent, further promoting social interaction without the complete face-to-face experience, as well. Presently, with video-communication applications like Skype, there has been an added stepping stone in the gradual increase of integration intensity from text to audio to video and eventually actual real-life social settings, which research has found to help improve students’ social skills where they may have been previously lacking.
While this was not the primary focus of either of Arleen’s articles, it was an aspect that stuck out to me as surprising, and therefore stuck with me afterward, as well.