Being an online student carries over to war zones, locker rooms, gyms, vacation destinations, and other places around the world. It’s one of the reasons why more and more adult learners are participating in online learning, which now represents 31 percent of total higher education enrollment.
Sometimes the key is finding an Internet connection away from home. Some students fit in learning with family time, even when out of town. Some are able to juggle work assignments across the globe while learning.
Although our country is a melting pot, a study reports that people are more likely to engage with the computerized coaches who have the same gender and race, according to a new study by researchers at George Washington University and North Carolina State University. They studied 257 people who interacted with the virtual helpers.
Study co-author Lori Foster Thompson in North Carolina told The Chronicle of Higher Education that having effective helpers can make the online learning experience more social, and even help increase e-learning completion rates.
She adds: “That is one of the issues with online learning, that it can be kind of lonely. If these agents are designed well, it can be a way to mitigate that.”
When it comes to learning online, the study reveals that students are more comfortable communicating with a virtual stand-in who they admire physically.
Co-author Tara Behrend of George Washington University tells Fast Company: “There is no reason we should make attributions about a person based on their avatar’s appearance. But it’s likely that these tendencies are automatic — we tend to assume that ‘beautiful equals good,’ both in real life, and as we found, in the virtual world.”
It also found that students preferred to deal with virtual stand-ins who have the same opinions about school success, either desiring personal best or to be the best among peers, the publications reported.
You’re likely to see the companies who create the virtual avatars expanding to a wider range of choices to appeal to all types of online students. But maybe the real test is when online students are able to create the virtual helper of their own (like the Miis created when playing Wii), and we’ll see exactly how close it gets to mirroring each student’s appearance.
Breast pumps and bouncer seats, play dates and pacifiers. These are building blocks of the mommy vocabulary. But as much as moms love their 24/7 caregiving job, they often long to add more adult vocabulary and interaction into their days.
Unfortunately, many moms don’t have the option of commuting to class to earn a degree or just get some intellectual stimulation. But moms have found the perfect way to stay connected with the outside world and avoid succumbing to total “mommy brain” — online education.
According to the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C), almost 3.5 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2006 term. In fact, enrollment rates at online schools have increased at an annual rate of 9.7 percent, compared to an overall rate of 1.5 percent for all colleges combined.
It’s no surprise that online schools are increasing in popularity, especially with the mommy set. The flexibility is reason enough for moms to pursue this education format. Online courses eliminate the obstacles of transportation and time, allowing the busy mom to “attend” class when it suits her schedule. And women are certainly making time for their education: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in October 2006, 56 percent of all undergrads were women.
Positive Role Model
A mom pursuing online education provides an excellent example for her children. By taking time for her education, she demonstrates the importance of lifelong learning as well as the art of creating goals and sticking to them. Children learn that mom is a separate individual with a life and a purpose outside of her service to them. This helps them understand that, though they are a top priority in mom’s life, the world does not revolve around them.
Kids are not the only ones to benefit from mom’s online education, of course. For many moms, online courses are a way to preserve sanity by putting their intellectual energy into something that has nothing to do with potty training or princess dresses. And this benefit extends to the kids as well. After all, a sane mom is a happy mom, and a happy mom is better equipped to care for her children.
Moms who wish to invest in their families and in themselves are making time for both with online education. What could be a better investment of your intellectual energy?
by Robyn Tellefsen