Learner Active Participation & Online Learning Success

Hrastinski, S. (2009) A theory of online learning as online participation. Computers & Education. pp. 78-82.

This article emphasizes the importance of online learners taking ownership for their success in online courses by exhibiting active participation. Active participation is a pertinent aspect of online learning because group discussions, inquiry based learning, problem solving and collaboration are significant components that are required to make online learning a success. These teaching strategies require active participation for high levels of cognition to occur. Online learning best practices include the implementation of interesting and engaging assignments and also require collaboration. Therefore, learners should prioritize cultivating supportive and successful relationships with peers and instructors to maximize active participation and the online learning experience. Hrastinski (2009) explains the importance of collaboration for learner achievement and cognition in the following quote:

“Based on three studies conducted over 5 years of 26 online courses at the     New Jersey Institute of Technology, it was concluded that learners who participated in collaborative or group learning were related with as high or higher learning outcomes as those in traditional settings. However, when “simply receiving posted material and sending back individual work, the results are poorer than in traditional classrooms.” (Hiltz, Coppola, Rotter, Turrof & Benbunan-Fich, 2000 p. 120) (Hrastinski, 2009, p. 79)

This reveals the pertinence of collaboration as opposed to an individualistic approach for ensuring that achievement outcomes are equal to or higher than traditional brick and mortar classrooms. The online learning experience involves a complex learning ecosystem that leverages synthesis and critical thinking skills that will thrive when learners demonstrate high levels of active participation. When learners are passive and cavalier regarding online learning, then their potential for success is limited.

Hrastinki’s (2009) theory of online participation provides pertinent data that is needed to advance educational technology research and online learning. This research emphasizes the importance of leaners’ active participation and how critical it is to ensuring that high levels of cognition, learning achievement and success occur. This information is important for learners who are considering online learning as an option for them, so that they can be prepared for the kinds of high level participation that will be required of them. In addition, Hrastinski’s Theory can assist learners with determining if online learning fits their needs and styles of learning to make the best decision regarding online and traditional learning options.

As an online learner and online learning developer, I recognize the importance of active participation in maximizing online learning. Therefore, I enjoy active participation as a learner, since it enhances higher cognition and learning acquisition. As an online learning designer, I implement engaging learning and content that includes prior knowledge activation, real world scenarios and critical thinking that results in learner active participation. Active participation is paramount to online success and must be prioritized by learners to optimize learning.

Related Article:

Carr, R., Hagel, P. & Palmer, S. (2015) Active learning: The importance of developing a comprehensive measure. Active Learning in Higher Education. pp. 173 – 186.