Getting Online: The GO Project


Overview of Online Learning

Before Computers

Memory was something you lost with age
An application was for employment
A program was a TV show
A cursor used profanity
A keyboard was a piano
A web was a spider's home
A virus was the flu
A hard drive was a long trip on the road
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived



What is online learning? Simply stated, it is learning that involves some kind of online connection. That can include being connected to a learning site via the Internet using a traditional computer or a mobile device such as a Blackberry, an iPhone or other cell phone, or it can mean using computer-based learning resources such as CDs, DVDs, podcasts, videos and more. Online learning can be a self-study activity done for personal interest, a professional development workshop, a full-fledged degree course offered by an accredited educational institution or any other type of learning delivered through online technoloogy. It can be facilitated or not, it can be interactive or self-study, it can be offered live (synchronous) or you can join in at your convenience (asynchronous).

Online learning can be presented using text, audio, video, graphics or any combination of formats. Increasingly, online learning makes use of new and emerging web-based technologies (known as Web 2.0) including popular applications such as YouTube, Facebook, wikis, blogs and more. (For a more detailed discussion of online learning technology, be sure to visit our Technology module.)

The variations and combinations possible in online learning are many. While that may seem daunting or confusing, it also means that an online learning opportunity is probably available to meet almost any learning need you might have or that a technology exists to allow online facilitators to deliver content in many creative ways. For one online student’s perspective on the benefits of online learning and what it looks like, be sure to watch the YouTube video, Learning Online.

Demand for online learning is increasing. In 2005, Statistics Canada found that over one quarter of adult Canadians used the Internet for education and training (Source: Statistics Canada, Learning Online, 2005).

In this module, we will explore how online learning is being used in the Canadian literacy field and in other similar areas, e.g., not-for-profit organizations, colleges, universities and schools. We will also review some of the popular purposes, technologies, evaluation techniques and trends in online learning in Canada.

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