ChinesePod, MOOCs and Meetups – Online but not Alone

Welcome to Learn Chinese Cairns

Let face it, the basis and core functionality of ChinesePod ever since its humble beginnings in 2005 has revolved around online learning. And since then, ChinesePod has evolved to incorporate technology even more into its method. With our tablet textbook approach via web and smart phone apps, it is safe to say that ChinesePod has become fully mobile, allowing students to conveniently study Chinese whenever and wherever.

That being said, there are still a number of obstacles that students run into while learning a language (or anything for that matter) online.

Online Obstacles

  • One issue is isolation. Unlike an actual classroom, where students can engage and interact with each other face to face, online students are physically isolated from each other. Now the web has come a long way to include things like forum boards, chat rooms, and other forms of online communication, but the fact remains that there is an element of raw human to human interaction that can never be achieved online.
  • Another issue is isolation of a different form. That is, isolation based on learning speed and level, or academic isolation. More often than we’d like to think, online learning fails for the individual because he or she is left unnoticed. If, for example, there is an online student who is struggling, he or she is less likely to receive the kind of support from teachers or peers than he or she would in a classroom, simply due to the fact that he or she has no physical presence.
  • The above two obstacles often lead to the biggest problem students struggle with when learning online – motivation. If a student doesn’t feel engaged with the learning community, or feels that he/she doesn’t have enough learning support, it will most likely lead to the student’s withdrawal from learning. In a classroom, motivational issues are easier to address both because of the peer support and the stronger feeling of “belonging” to the learning community.

 

The Hybrid Learning Technique

So how can we overcome these obstacles to combine the convenience, flexibility, and cost effectiveness of online learning with the motivation and community atmosphere of a traditional classroom? Well, one answer is hybrid learning.

But what is hybrid learning? Hybrid, or blended learning is a mix of MOOCs (massive open online courses) and in-person learning that tries to combine the benefits of both learning styles without brining on the disadvantages. Typically, the in-person aspect of blended learning is achieved through grass roots meetups, whereby students in a nearby area can gather together and discuss issues or topics of what they are learning with like-minded people. By forming communities and meeting in-person, students of hybrid learning gain a peer group that not only rids them of their isolation online, but also serves to motivate them to continue their learning. Motivation can be further enhanced by scheduling recurring meetups and including communal goals within each meetup group. It’s like your own personal study group for your online learning! A good example of successful hybrid learning is Coursera (a platform that offers free university level courses online). Currently, Coursera has over 3000 meetup communities worldwide, with over 30,000 individuals participating in its meetups.

Blended Learning at ChinesePod

ChinesePod too is currently adapting its teaching method to include hybrid learning, as we love to see our students succeed and get more involved with the poddie community. ChinesePod meetups are run by poddies and for poddies, so that they can take advantage of the benefits of hybrid learning, and become more involved in their studies. You can join or create a meetup community near you by visiting chinesepod.com/meetups. Once your group is created, you can also suggest friends and other people of interest to join via the meetup page. It is free to join and anyone can take part (even if they are new to ChinesePod). So if you want to stay motivated with learning Chinese and get involved with a ChinesePod community near you, please visit our meetup page! In addition, if you have any questions or suggestions regarding our meetup activities or hybrid learning in general, feel free to contact us at meetup@chinesepod.com.

Learn Chinese in Cairns today!
S Chen

About S Chen

Director of My Learning Club Pty Ltd. Owner of Learn Chinese Cairns
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