Dipping In: Twitter Stories About Online Teaching and Learning

I am somewhat a veteran to the world of online learning, having taught ADMS 647, Educational Technology for Administrators, for five years. I am web veteran as well, blogging on and off since 2003 and tweeting since 2007.

But you are never too old or experienced to learn more and I was fascinated doing Twitter searches on online teaching and learning. I quickly realized that I have been using Twitter in a very superficial way. The advanced search helped reveal stories in a way that can be tough when you’re just browsing a feed, particularly one that may be glutted with too many different sorts of folks.

Quick searches on “online teaching” and “online learning” yielded surprisingly different results. Online teaching seemed to focus on making money as an online teacher. Here’s a quick screenshot of the photos that came up.

Online Teaching Money


Clearly, I’m not doing this right. Although they don’t say you’ll make a lot of money, just that there is money to be made. For me, it’s a reminder of how far we’ve come in terms of online teaching and learning.

The online learning search results were more focused on the education aspects and, at the time I searched, included several tweets linking to an article from Forbes speculating on what is next AFTER online learning:

I thought, really? We’re already on what’s AFTER? We still haven’t figured out online learning. Let’s not be so quick to move to the next thing. However, it turns out that the article didn’t include the word AFTER. That was the headline added by OLCToday in their tweet AND on the article they reprinted from Forbes. The original article was titled Online Learning: What’s Next and  was basically a report about a recent survey. The speculation about what’s next was not earth shattering:

“All will agree that the experience of taking a course on-line versus in a classroom is different and both types should continue to be offered. I predict that the day will soon come when we will not distinguish courses by their teaching modality and employers and others will not ask whether the program was on-line or in person. On-line courses will continue to expand access to education to those without the time or money to attend a traditional on-the-ground class as well as well as to those who prefer this modality.”

A lesson learned about primary sources on the web. The simple addition of a headline can skew the meaning of an article. The original article has its own power in terms of encouraging educators across the spectrum to explore online learning and highlights the timeliness of the Online Learning Experience. Again, the message is that we’ve come a long way but there is more journey ahead. The tweet searches focused mostly on industry and higher education. I didn’t really get into K-12 online learning until I substituted “blended learning” for the search. The general search yields lots of conversations about using blended learning in the classroom. There are resources, frameworks, and, perhaps, a little bit of hype. That’s why Scott Macleod’s tweet of Philip McRae’s essay on the hype, harm and hope of blended learning made it into this post. We need to be thinking hard about these kinds of technological changes and get beyond the “this will revolutionize education” mentality.

But it was when I tried out the search suggestion about adding a pronoun that I really got to the heart of how people are using online courses to access education as well as some of the possible fears:

There’s the convenience, which seemed to focus on being able to learn with or without pants:

As well as the opportunity to time shift the learning and doing it from anywhere:


And then there’s this:


I don’t think online learning is any more open to cheating than regular learning but it is a potential fear.

I think the bigger issue is helping our students learn how to learn online:

This post is already too long so I’ll end it with an observation that came out of all the searches. There is a WHOLE LOT of online learning going on. If you want to learn something, there is a course for you:

From reorganizing your home:

To having better relationships with your pets:


To making the most of Ramadan:

As the Forbes article suggests, online learning is a part of our lives now. Thinking about how to make it a better experience is essential and may just have lessons for our face to face classes as well.

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