A globally connected, networked and distributed learning environment gives the learner the opportunity to personalise their own learning through selecting technologies and approaches that match their learning styles and preferences. The learner should therefore carefully consider these options, as well as being aware of presenting themselves appropriately to an online audience. This is so that they can connect with an online audience, either through online classrooms or through other means such as a wiki or a blog, positively.
The live conference sessions on this website uses Blackboard Collaborate, and clearly demonstrate advancement in online classroom participation. The technology uses virtual emoticons to allow learners to show how they are feeling, to engage the tutor with their feelings, and to therefore better engage themselves with their own learning process. As an example, the learners can show a smiley emoticon to show that they understand the content, or they can show a confusion emoticon indicating they are puzzled over a part of the session content. This informs the tutor of the current state of understanding, therefore helping to decide on the pace of delivering the content, or if content needs to be explained again. Online learning has been criticised in the past for the lack of physical and verbal cues, therefore difficult to know if learners are engaged with the session. Introducing a set of Techno-Verbal cues within an online classroom allow learners to simulate a physical classroom environment. Engagement and interest in the subject matter is therefore maintained, even enhanced, and the tutor is continuously informed of the state of the learners’ understanding and interest level.
There is another aspect to online presentation in addition to online classroom participation: presentation to a global audience. When students create and post blog posts, wiki pages and discussion threads, they are exposing their knowledge and indeed their writing skills to potentially a global audience. If their work is not exposed to a global audience, then it will be viewable by the rest of the learners of that particular class. Students therefore should feel more encouraged to think more about what they write and how they write to the class or wider audience.
Learners need to be encouraged to care more about what they write and how they write because some employers are, as an example, beginning to use their potential employees’ Facebook pages as a part of their job application. Even existing employers can monitor their employees’ online presence: there have been reports of teachers losing their jobs because of what they have put on their Facebook profile. What learners write and how learners write in an online environment, whether or not it is a part of their formal learning, is beginning to affect their performance in the job market. Therefore learners need to be introduced to online presentation in a way that will benefit them in the long term. In the future, it might be interesting to find out how a web presence can continue to benefit those who have left formal education, and also how a web presence could benefit job seekers in general.
There are many other reasons why learners should care about their online presentations in addition to online classroom participation and through their writings. Can you think of any other reason why presentation is important? Should these presentation skills be taught along with information analysis skills before learners reach further and higher education levels?