The need for collaborative learning spaces

digital learning day

The need for collaborative learning spaces

A major learning revolution is underway in the K-12 sector. Advocacy of instructional improvement and instructional technology improvement is essential to meet the 21st century need of initiating a lifelong learning process and preparing students for the knowledge economy. With this aim in mind, educators across the globe have been contributing towards pedagogical and technological innovations.

The Association for Educational Communications and Technology has defined educational technology as the “study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.” One of the major breakthroughs has been adaptation of Learning Management System (LMS) in schools. While higher educational institutes have been using LMS for some time now, schools have taken this up only recently.

But what is LMS? It is a software application that aids in planning and implementing the learning process. It is used to create and deliver content as well as monitor the participation and performance of students. Learning, as a result, becomes possible on any device such as smartphones, computers or tablets. Some of the benefits of LMS include: 

 The retention capabilities of students vary. With content available online, their problems are addressed to a large extent.

 Thriving on social media dynamics, LMS also has the potential of furthering social learning, which is a desirable attribute in the modern world.

 A cloud-based LMS keeps the data safe and organised. Thus, instead of maintaining hardware and piles of documents, all the content can be managed in one place.

Adopting a learning management system can further the learning of students in multiple ways, and it can also facilitate a flipped classroom and blended learning. Let us look into these two concepts more closely.

Flipped classroom

In a flipped classroom, the content is shared with the students beforehand. This allows students to go through the content before they attend the lecture. Using the LMS platform, the teacher can share the content a day before. In such a scenario, the role of a teacher changes to that of a facilitator. According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, the six stages of the cognitive process include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

In a traditional classroom, a teacher is able to pursue the learning process only till the second stage. However, in a flipped classroom, higher level learning is possible with the teacher being able to go up to the fourth stage, i.e., analysis. Learners apply their knowledge and take up hands-on activities in the classroom.

They also develop critical thinking skills while debating with their peers on a topic. Learning is thus more advanced in a flipped classroom. Students are also able to learn at their own pace because they have all the materials at their disposal. Moreover, instead of just teaching, teachers can guide students while the latter applies their understanding in discussion sessions.

Blended learning

Why restrict the use of LMS as an e-learning delivery platform, when it can be used for other purposes as well? Classrooms still need discussion, and learning process still needs the guidance of a teacher. Blended learning is an approach aimed at facilitating learning by combining the use of technology with traditional teaching methods. While students still attend lectures at ‘brick and mortar’ schools in the presence of teachers, computer-mediation is used to deliver content.

This method enables teachers to have some free time which they can utilise for providing personalised learning to students, which is the need of the hour in the education sector. This would also help students to learn using digital content at their own pace. Thus, students can augment their learning experience with online coursework.

LMS is also a platform where K-12 teachers can collaborate to create lectures and study plans for students, and then share the same with them. The intuitive software application can also suggest learning paths and resources best suited for students based on their interests, performance and learning progress.

The recommendations get more relevant as the students keep using the system. It empowers individual learning substantially and opens room for self-improvement. With an increase in the population using smart devices, the future of LMS in the education sector looks promising.

(The author is co-founder, Next Education India Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad)

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