Can online learning make you more productive?

I’ve always been a bit skeptical of online education. I think I’m a good instructor. I know my subject extremely well, put a lot of time into preparing lectures, class activities and assignments. Having done some online classes, I have found it harder to gauge if students are confused or bored. Those hand-raises on goto meeting just aren’t enough for me.

Two things started to change my view. The first is using videos to teach my statistics students who to use SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS Web Editor. We no longer have the luxury of six hours for a statistics class – a three hour lecture followed by a three hour lab. So, I have been making videos. A number of students have reported they found those helpful for reasons ranging from having English as a second language, to being able to stop and rewind the video to hear something over.

The second is personal. I saw this awesome TED talk a while back about on trying something new for 30 days. Last month, I decided to try blogging every day for 30 days. I do two blogs, this one and one on judo and just matwork and grappling in general.  I think I managed to blog all but one day when work was just to hectic.  This month, I decided to try something else and I was torn between exercising every day and learning more about javascript/ jquery every day. I exercise pretty regularly, plus, I really wanted to get better at javascript, so I decided on that.

However, I am really busy at the moment and it has been getting harder and harder to find the time to exercise. I’ve been spending all day sitting at my desk writing proposals, grading papers, writing programs.

The Rocket Scientist has been listening to lots of videos from the World Wide Developers Conference. I thought that was a good idea but I just have a hard time sitting still watching anything. I probably watch a total of five hours of TV a week and half of that while riding the exercise bike.

Then it dawned on me – I could watch youtube videos on the TV in the living room.


So, now every morning I get up and ride the exercise bike for 40 minutes while watching one video after another.

There is another argument in favor of on-line learning. Even if it is not optimal compared to in class learning – and I must admit a lot of the videos move pretty slowly – it allows you to learn any time anywhere (yeah, I know I did not coin that phrase).

More than that – I really have  hard time sitting still and passively learning which has made it difficult for me to just watch videos.

So, now I am literally not sitting still, I’m riding a bike. I’m curious if this method would help students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

It’s worth a try. Has anyone tried it?


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