The Effects of a Virtual Community on Mature Learners’ Feelings of Isolation within Online Programs

Tamara DawsonFull disclosure, I wasn’t really interested in the sessions happening during this time block. This session is the only one that may be applicable to what I’m currently doing. My hope is that I’ll be able to take away something that can be used for our non-traditional students.Tamara started with a set of 5 questions done on Kahoot, which apparently is the buzz tool for the year. Not sure how, but I ended up in 1st place (woot woot!). After the game, we jumped into the content. Social interaction is needed in eLearning to promote engagement, satisfaction, and retention. I don’t disagree with this, but I also don’t think that it’s limited to just mature learners – even traditional college students who participate in online courses need these as well. Tamara did some research around the topic of mature learners, so this session seems to be a presentation of her findings. She stated the problem as mature students feel isolated when participating in online courses. Again, I understand this, but I don’t feel it’s limited to just mature learners.Tamara indicates that student isolation inhibits engagemetn, satisfaction and retention. To alleviate this, it’s important to develop a sense of community. Ways to do this include consisten interaction, discussion forums, video conferencing, etc. None of this was very unique.At about the 30 minute mark, we’re still talking about the population sample, construct of the study, etc. No sign of actually getting to the results or implications yet…At about the 30 minute mark, Tamara wrapped up the session and started asking for what others (in the audience) do for their classes to alleviate isolation. Sadly, this session was not useful at all. There was nothing I could take away as ideas and best practices for overcoming the sense of isolation for all learners, let alone strictly mature learners.

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