William McKinley Elementary School in North Bergen, New Jersey

Barriers to Online Learning

As a child, I attended the William McKinley Elementary School in North Bergen, New Jersey. There were 58 stairs to enter the school, teetering at the top of a hill on Liberty Avenue. One stair was symbolic for each year of President McKinley’s life. McKinley, our twenty-fifth President, was assassinated in 1901. The school was constructed in 1919.

In 1967, I climbed those stairs each school day, staring down at my patent leather “Mary Janes.” Some days, I counted the stairs on my way up. Other days, I sang childhood songs like Pop Goes the Weasel and London Bridge. It was a long way up. I was out of breath when I made it to the top.

Today, stairs are good. We acknowledge that regular stair climbing can lower resting heart rates, improve balance and shape, and tone different muscles in your legs and lower body. As a 5 year old, those stairs presented a barrier to the safety and happiness of my Kindergarten classroom. I dreaded them, every day.

Just like stairs, technical issues present barriers to online learning for some learners. A deterrent to online courses is when users have difficulty navigating the website, with no instant access to technical support. The user interface for the course or the user interface for the Learning Management System that hosts the courses should be intuitive and user-friendly. Simple login or password issues might sometimes deter users from finishing a course. Consider the interminable wait time required to reset a password. Learners are preoccupied with jobs and family, and assistance should be provided immediately when they experience technical difficulties. This increases the likelihood that learners will finish courses on schedule.

It is advisable to consider a simple remedy for lost passwords before creating and deploying online courses in your organization.

What is a barrier for you in online learning?

I am a learning experience design consultant focused on developing engaging learning experiences. Although my career has always been related to education in some way, I have worked as a technology director, curriculum specialist, college professor, and now an online instructional designer.