Tag Archives: online learning

3 Realistic Requirements for Effective Online Learning

A recent post from Designer Librarian outlines 3 crucial elements to sustain a successful online learning environment. The author, Amanda Hovious, is an experienced librarian currently completing her master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology (IDT). Amanda, who attended her IDT program entirely online, describes the 3 most important components of online learning to achieve success and student engagement: Synchronous Learning, Sense of Community, and Active Discussions.

From a student’s perspective, I often find it difficult to become motivated and engaged in online learning. This issue typically originates from the common structure of online classes; pre-recorded lessons and instructions that are not in real time. There is often a lack of “community” and active discussions compared to a physical classroom. All of these factors combined make it difficult to stay organized, involved, and informed in an online course.

What do you think?

  • Is an active community of learners important when taking a new course?
  • Are discussions more useful when lead by a select few, rather than a collective group?
  • Is it easier to stay engaged and organized in an online environment vs. a physical environment?

I look forward to your opinion and thank you for reading!
Feel free to post your opinion or comments below!

The Flipped Classroom

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A popular concept in education, which is reviewed on Inside Higher ED’s website, is the idea of a “flipped classroom.” The basic definition of a “flipped classroom,” which varies depending on your source, is that the typical lecture and homework elements of a classroom are reversed. This means students would listen to a pre-recorded lecture at home and do homework in the classroom. Several different business models and organizations already promote this idea, like the well-known Khan Academy non-profit model, but is this model optimal?

Benefits
Don’t get me wrong; the “flipped” model has its benefits. (1) Students can go through the material at their own pace in a comfortable environment. This approach allows students who blaze through the material to be more efficient with their time and less confident students to spend as much time as they need to understand the content. (2) Students who are struggling with a problem or concept in class can ask an instructor for assistance who will guide them to the answer. Speaking from a student perspective, it is much easier (and memorable) to have an instructor work with you to solve a problem than it is consulting a textbook or searching for the answer online. (3) Plenty of opportunity to discuss and compare approaches with other students while in class. Students often solve problems and run into the same issues while working through problems. It can be very helpful and time efficient to collaborate with other students to achieve I higher degree of understanding. These benefits all contributes to a greater understanding of the content and a stronger awareness of troublesome areas that require greater attention.

Weaknesses
So why hasn’t everyone adopted this model? Simply put, it’s in our human nature to resist change. The traditional method of suggesting material to read over before class, lecturing during class, and assigning homework after class has been in place for centuries. This traditional “teacher experience,” arguably, can never be replaced. As a student, one fatal flaw I’ve experienced in the current system occurs at home. I often find it difficult to concentrate and motivate myself to read from a textbook or learn a new topic that doesn’t particularly interest me, especially if the content isn’t specifically brought up in class. I relate this experience to a chore I never liked doing, but is required for a greater cause, like my parent’s satisfaction (or graduation). Of course, it isn’t a perfect system, but we implement support initiatives to redeem its shortcomings. Many of these initiatives mirror the benefits of the “flipped classroom,” for example Academic-Zone’s personalized online approach. Lecturing for more than 50 minutes may not maintain student attention and be effected by diminishing marginal returns. However, the lecture still plays an important role in highlighting the key information in a mountain of text. Instructors also make themselves available after class to clarify information.

Final Thoughts
Similar to the article written by Pamela E. Barnett, a potential solution would be an integration of both systems. Taking the best of both models with the help of modern technology can improve the effectiveness of teaching. For example, having a short lecture, in-class exercises, and relevant online material/assessment could be a possible layout for the lectures of tomorrow. With this model, we have the opportunity to try a new approach and personalize learning for students of the 21st century.

What are you thoughts?
–     Do you think this “flipped classroom” model could work?
–     Would it be easier for students to learn information using this model?
–     How about instructors to teach?

I look forward to your opinion!

A Simple Recipe for Effective Teaching

Educational institutions are constantly looking for initiatives to improve the quality of education provided to their students. Traditionally, an educational lesson has been taught in a physical classroom where the student’s perception and understanding of the material highly depends on the educator’s presentation and explanation of the material. The current trend of an “online classroom,” provides students with access to infinite amounts of information, at any time, any place, and with additional features to enhance their academic learning.

What does it take to become a good teacher?

An interesting article on the Rule Number One blog outlines a simple recipe for being a good teacher. In the article the author, Kevin Michael Klipfel, includes a quote from an educational psychologist, Daniel Willingham, who quotes his book: “Why Don’t Students Like School,” which depicts this recipe perfectly.

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“Effective teachers… are able to connect personally with students, and they organize material in a way that makes it interesting and easy to understand…”

Can this approach still work online? We think it can. Innovative online resources, similar to Academic-Zone, promote an engaging, interactive, and more effective learning environment.

What makes the “online classroom” different?

  • Students have the opportunity to pause, rewind, and play information which is unique to the online learning environment.
  • Facilitators can measure, respond, provide and record feedback much easier and quicker than in a traditional sense.
  • The online platform can be tailored to each student’s unique learning style. Not every student’s learning styles are satisfied in a one-size-fits-all lecture room.

I encourage you to visit our online demonstration so you can decide for yourself if the online approach to learning can be effective.

Thanks for reading!

Essential English Grammar Updated

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The Essential English Grammar add-on module has been updated! We have updated many of the exercises and activities, and included some new ones too; not to mention this module sports the new Academic-Zone blue theme!

This module is the perfect way to develop fundamental grammar skills. Although this module is great for all students, it was specifically designed with the ESL/International student audience in mind! The module is loaded with ways for students to put what they have learned into practice.

Interested in exploring more? Let us know! Leave a comment or send us an email.

Top 99 Online College Student Resources

Check out Top 5 Online Colleges.org‘s list of online college student resources. The organization has listed what they believe to be the top 99 online college student resources. I really like how the resources are broken down into categories: General Online Learning, Continuing Education, OpenCourseWare, Tools & Supplies, Videos, Podcasts & Webinars and College Preparation. Students are able to break down what they are looking for by type of resource, and then choose from a list of top resources in that category- allowing for easy access and navigation to the topic of choice.

I have listed the #1 resource in each of the categories below, but make sure to check out the full article for more details and links to the other resources.

General Online Learning- Khan Academy
Continuing Education- findCE.com
OpenCourseWare- MITOpencourseware
Tools & Supplies- Evernote
Videos, Podcasts & Webinars- TeacherTube
College Preparation- CLC College Prep

Click here to view the full article.