I’m a terrible online learner -at least when it comes to structured learning – as the stack of guiltily-unopened emails from Coursera and FutureLearn in my email inbox would tell you.
I am the living embodiment of the downside of what Tressie McMillan Cottom called the “roaming autodidact” – I digest swathes of information daily, drawing on multiple specialisms and discourses and translating freely between them. What I do badly is complete/finish – I want to understand enough economic theory to grasp a parallel I am struggling to see, I don’t necessarily want to understand economic theory per se.
My knowledge is wide and (mostly) shallow, I collect connections and concepts to inform my own mental models, but my enthusiasm is focused on building those models rather than on any external metric of mastery.
So what helps me in learning online is the ability to set my own projects and goals, to have access to a wide range of resources and a group of peers to support me. What doesn’t help me is a course structure or timed-delimited focus, or “faux” problem-based learning (I like to cause my own problems 🙂 )