The Importance of Consistency in Online Learning

Sean Stewart

As we navigate this tumultuous time in our history, many important aspects of learning have come to light. One of these things, which I had not considered when starting the transition to online learning/instruction, is the importance of consistency.

Schools have tried a multitude of strategies for continuing instruction for their students. My student-teaching placement, Central Catholic, has opted for a daily assignment system with the deadline for assignments being the normal end of the school day. On the other hand, my high school alma mater, Chaminade Julienne in Dayton, Ohio, had opted to leave the frequency up to the teachers. There are pros and cons to both but, ultimately, these online instruction plans live and die by the amount of consistency that they offer students.

Central Catholic’s system is extremely consistent, with set dates and deadlines for both teachers and students. This allows everyone to be on the same page and know ahead of time what is expected of them. Students are expected to complete their assignments as both assessment and a form of “check-in” with teachers. If a student does not submit assignments for a couple days, a teacher knows to reach out and see what is going on. This system also provides stability for the students. Immediately, the issue with online learning is student efficacy and motivation. Getting students to wake up early and do schoolwork when they don’t physically have to go is difficult. The expectations that Central has laid out with their online instruction system allows the teachers and students to continue their work in as consistent a manner as possible.

My high school alma mater, Chaminade Julienne (CJ), has taken a different approach. When they started going online, the requirements were very loose and inconsistent. Students were told to check Google Classroom daily, but not given any kind of deadline or requirement. Teachers would post assignments and set deadlines individually and students would be expected to complete the work. The issue is that this site gives the students no solid foundation for their learning. There is no expectation or example being set to check Google Classroom consistently and, therefore, the system experienced some issues. Eventually, CJ recognized these issues and changed their system. Now, students are required to check in with teachers twice a week through email. While this is not as rigorous of a deadline as Central, it does provide the students and teachers with a standard that they need to meet. 

Consistency in this inconsistent time is of the utmost importance for young learners. By making sure that standards and expectations are set, we as educators are able to raise student efficacy and ensure that they are still growing as learners.

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