Learning trends in a competitive era

E-LEARNING Education in the 21st century has to be pro-active, engaging, and customized to maximize effectiveness, writes Priyameet Kaur Keer Anand

Learning trends in a competitive era

Information Technology is rapidly growing as part of today’s society. It offers to everyone’s life in many respects. Every human endeavor today is influenced by IT.

Information Technology refers to the management of information using computer based tools. It includes acquiring, processing, storing and distributing information. It is having impact on all trade and manufacturing industries, and business services.

Emerging technologies, and all new ideas, promise the possibility of significant benefits. In the initial stages of adoption, however, those benefits can be difficult to fully reveal. Real success comes only when the factors that drive a technology to grow are strong enough to outweigh any existing limitations. In the field of learning management, this frequently means that user support or demand must be counted among a technology’s strengths if it is to thrive. IT tools can be employed to give users quick access to ideas and experiences from a wide range of people, communities and cultures.

Online Learning

It is also known as e-learning.  It is basically delivery of learning, training or education program by electronic means. As the name suggests ‘online’ involves using the internet to provide learning materials. Online learning overcomes timings, attendance and travel difficulties. It is essentially the network enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. Content is delivered via internet, intranet/extranet, audio or video – tape satellite, TV and CD-ROM.  It consists of a structured learning activity utilising technology with intranet/internet-based tools and resources as the delivery method for instruction, research, assessment, and communication.

Delivery Formats

Over the past years, there has seen significant growth in the number of students and educators engaged in online learning. Today, learners of all ages can experience a variety of instructional formats while participating in formal online educational activities.

Below is a description of the four most common formats used to deliver online educational programs and services to students/learners at all levels.

Teacher-led: This mode of online learning mirrors the role of a traditional classroom teacher in a virtual environment. This format usually makes use of a Web-based course management system or application such as blackboard to create an online learning environment for students/learners. The online teacher provides direction, educational content and feedback for the students. The teacher makes assignments, leads threaded discussions, grades student work, establishes deadlines and administers quizzes and tests. The teacher also plays an active role in monitoring student progress and developing differentiated instructional strategies for students.

This delivery format is hundred percent dependent on the use of technology tools such as e-mail, chat rooms, threaded discussions and pod casts to communicate and interact with students. Given the strong reliance on technology, this format requires both teachers and students to have strong computer and internet skills.
n Blended instruction: Blended online learning is a balanced mix of traditional face-to-face instructional activities with appropriately designed online experiences.

Teachers who provide blended online learning often utilize a course management system as an extension of the physical classroom. This format leverages the communication benefits of a traditional classroom environment and links it to the power of Internet-based learning tools and resources. Educators utilise this format to expand and reinforce classroom-based instructional activities and to extend learning beyond the classroom walls and the normal school timings, including evenings, weekends and scheduled breaks. This format can provide opportunities for students to work outside the classroom in virtual teams with students from other schools to learn writing, research, teamwork and technology skills.

Teacher-facilitated: Teacher-facilitated online learning enables an educator to work with one or more students to provide coach-like assistance for their online course or learning activities. Teachers can facilitate student learning through a combination of face-to-face interactions and exchanges using communication tools commonly found in most Internet-based course management systems. This form of delivery places an expectation on students to take significant responsibility for their own learning.

The key role of the teacher facilitator is to ensure that students are engaged and making progress in their online course or activity. Teachers providing the facilitation usually know the subject matter well and can provide content-related instructional assistance to students. This delivery mode can be compared to some independent study activities used in high schools.

Self-paced: A growing number of online educational products and services can be used by students with no teacher involvement. These products are often referred to as self-paced online learning experiences and they usually work best for highly independent learners who regularly demonstrate self-initiative and require little guidance, motivation and direction. Self-paced online courses and activities are often shorter in duration than semester-length courses and tend to focus on concentrated topics such as learning a specific software tool or program. Other examples include online test preparation tools and online remedial courseware.
Two common shortfalls of self-paced online learning include, the inability of students to seek support, feedback and direction from an educator online, and to be part of a learning community benefiting from interactions with other learners on collaborative projects.

To maximize effectiveness, education in the 21st century has to be pro-active, engaging, and customized. Students must have universal access to mobile technologies that will enhance critical thinking, differentiation, and problem solving.

(The writer is a faculty member of the department of MBA at CMRIT.)

Comments (+)