Online Learning Teaching Techniques
The world of online education is exciting for its potential to reach students individually, but what teaching techniques can do this?
Online Learning Strengths
Online learning strengths lie in student empowerment, flexibility, accommodation, customization, collaboration, and creation. Students are empowered through online learning in a number of ways. They are free to access materials whenever and wherever they want, using a system they are comfortable with. This flexibility allows students to learn in a way in which they are successful. They are empowered to make choices on how to explore content, which is accommodating to different learning styles. For instance, a learner can watch a video lecture if they prefer visual learning, listen to the same lecture while they are driving or exercising if they prefer audio, or even read the transcript if text learning is their preference.
Often times, students can customize portions of the course management system (CMS) used by their school for their own personal preference, such as including a picture of themselves; changing the background color, font or font size for reading clarity; and even setting notifications. Lessons and projects can also offer customization to the student's interest, which empowers students to own their learning experience and ensures relevancy. Online learning also fosters collaboration in which students interact with each other, the teacher, various content, and even the outside world. This interaction expands the sources of knowledge and allows students to be involved in the world, as well as their own studies. In online learning, students create their own learning experience; it not only puts the student at the center of the learning experience, but also makes them responsible for their own learning. This challenges the previous learning paradigms.
Why the traditional learning theories do not work
The traditional learning theory of ‘sage on the stage’, also known as passive transmittal learning, emphasizes the teacher as the center of the learning process. It places the responsibility of learning on the transfer of knowledge from the expert (teacher) to the novice (student). Education rooted in the teacher-center approach often uses direct instruction techniques, such as lecture while the students sit and take notes. Given the fundamental design of online learning, namely that the teacher and student are not physically present, there must be a change from this learning paradigm so that each student can be successful in this learning environment.
A student-center approach to learning is often referred to as the teacher being ‘the guide on the side’. While this can be straightforward to imagine in the face-to-face classroom, it is harder to conceptualize in the virtual setting. Teachers in online learning cannot float around the classroom, observing student work, watching student processes, standing ready to offer guidance when errors or misconceptions arise. While this approach places more responsibility on the student, the teacher still sets up the active learning activities and shares in the responsibility. Therefore, even this approach needs to be modified for successful learning to occur in the virtual setting.
What teaching techniques should teachers use in online learning?
The pedagogical techniques employed in online learning should:
- Optimize student engagement and success (Casey & Evans, 2011; Hazari et al., 2009).
- Foster interaction between student and content, other students, teachers, and outside experts (Alghamdi, 2013; Edwards et al., 2012; Hewege & Perera, 2013).
- Facilitate learning through providing intellectual stimulation, salient questions, ethical options, and resources for further inquiry (Freidhoff, 2008; Joshi & Babacan, 2012).
- Offer ways to sort out, recognize, and enhance students’ unique qualities, interests, and skills (Casey & Evans, 2011; Doering et al., 2009; Hadjerrouit, 2011).
- Allow for critical and reflective thinking, real-world application of concepts and skills, as well as encourage additional dialogue and seeking of assistance (Ang et al., 2008; Im & Lee, 2004; Lee & Osman, 2012).
As a result, I would argue that a constructivist, social, and collaborative learning paradigm be employed with secondary students in online education by teachers applying research-based pedagogical techniques through effective incorporation of various online learning tools.
What do you think? How should we view learning in online learning?
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- Ang, C., Avni, E., & Zaphiris, P. (2008). Linking pedagogical theory of computer games to their usability. International Journal On E-Learning, 7(3), 533-558.
- Casey, G., & Evans, T. (2011). Designing for learning: Online social networks as a classroom environment. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(7), 1-26.
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- Hewege, C. R., & Perera, L. C. R. (2013). Pedagogical significance of wikis: Towards gaining effective learning outcomes. Journal of International Education in Business, 6(1), 51-70. doi:10.1108/18363261311314953
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- Joshi, M. & Babacan, A. (2012). Developing a framework for the effective use of blogs in formative assessment. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 13(3), 21-32.
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