Online learning is an approach to learn without physically attending a classroom session. Students can simply use a computing device to attend a live classroom session or access a pre-recorded lecture through the internet, via online learning tools. To enable this, educational institutes or teachers utilize an eLearning software that contains advanced features to simulate an experience similar to that of an actual classroom session.
Online learning brings a unique solution to several critical challenges faced by the traditional classroom approach – better accessibility, no geographical constraints, more engaging content, and reduced expenditure for both, students and educators. A US Department of Education Review of online learning marks that eLearning produced better outcomes than face-to-face learning alone. Although more than 63% of educational institutions agree to online learning being a strategic factor in their knowledge dissemination, it is not a full-proof method of ensuring knowledge acquisition.
Similar to the traditional classroom approach, online learning too, has its limitations, paving the way for a hybrid classroom. We are shifting towards a hybrid solution that incorporates the successful elements of online learning within traditional classrooms to achieve a near-perfect learning solution. Here are some of the benefits of such a hybrid solution:
- Improved knowledge retention;
- Engaging discussions to enhance knowledge through peer-learning;
- Using and increasing the working knowledge of computers for both, teachers and students;
- Enabling prompt tech-based assessment with instantaneous result-review.
An adaptive approach with a comprehensive learning management system as the primary tool to deliver a classroom session could work wonders. This ensures maximum participation from the students. Teachers have started incorporating these elements to enhance their classroom teaching techniques.
How is online learning used in the classroom?
Blended learning allows the instructor to use the online software in a traditional classroom. The coursework, specific assignments may be submitted by the student, online. The online component may include delivering the course through an LMS for students. There are other methods such as a Flipped Classroom where the student is given coursework to study at home and homework to do at home. In another offshoot, called the in-class flip, some students are asked to learn the concept in class through devices
Dean Utian, from the UNSW, efficiently utilizes blended learning to leverage his class on cinematic space. He does so by blending online activities such as video assignments and blog discussions with face-to-face lectures. There are plenty of such success stories of using blended learning to enhance the traditional classroom teaching.
A research article published in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education claims that student satisfaction is the essential outcome of blended learning.
Another popular method for enhancing retention and promoting learning is using Gamification in the traditional classroom. For example, teachers may use ‘scoreboards and personalized feedback’ during coursework or promote a certain behaviour in class, etc. In a paper ‘Raising engagement in e-learning through gamification’ it has been pointed out that ‘people respond to computers as they were persons, especially when gaming (Fogg 2002).
Also, students interact with peers during gamification – Fogg also says that when people perceive the presence of others, their responses are social (such as taking turns) and will ‘have feelings like anger, empathy among others. Teachers use three types of games in education: edutech games, student-developed games like Scratch, and gamified courses wherein game mechanics are added to applications and tasks.
People are spending over $25 billion on video games in 2016. Incorporating the elements of gaming to enhance learning, makes sense. Gamification is an approach that harnesses the competitive aspects of sports within regular classroom activities through online games.
Virtual Reality (Google Cardboard)
With an expected growth to $15.9 billion by 2019, the virtual reality industry market is making virtual reality a household technology. Virtual reality is bringing new experiences to the classroom as well. One great example is of Google Cardboard. Students can use the Google Cardboard in class is a virtual reality viewer at the most affordable rates on any smartphone or tablet. They can view certain experiences such as mountain climbing, scuba diving, fixing a car etc. in videos made in a format for virtual viewing. The students feel as if they are in a real setting, in spite of the fact that they are in their classroom. Since this is available at a relatively low cost and is consumer-grade, it promises to be a great instructional tool.
Among the most inexpensive and highly useful virtual reality viewer apart from The New York Times virtual reality media content and Google’s Street View Project is Google Cardboard.
4) Audio-Video tools
Multimedia technology is useful for teachers to engage better with their students in facilitating increased interaction. Audio-video tools have proven to be highly successful in classrooms. Face-to-face two-way audio-visual online communication with the course instructor and peers from your location is convenient for the learners. It motivates them to go beyond the conventional learning systems.
Choosing a comprehensive LMS platform that offers advanced eLearning software including audio-video tools like high definition video conferencing, server-side recording, live screen sharing and secure live streaming would help provide a hybrid learning solution for your students with improved results.
5) Mobile apps and Mobile learning
An evolved, and more popular cousin of eLearning is mobile learning (mLearning). With students having uninterrupted access to internet-enabled smartphones, tablets or notebooks, the concept of eLearning has taken a revolutionary turn. The ‘just-in-time’ option to study and learn on-the-go on portable technologies make mLearning a more student-centred learning platform.
Advanced mobile learning solutions have evolved so that the user interface and design adjust seamlessly according to the device. This can be attributed to responsive web designing in the eLearning software. One can install such mobile apps on both, iOS and Android devices for users’ convenience.
Traditional classrooms need to evolve with time, and a pure online learning method has its limitations. A hybrid learning solution combines online learning methods with classroom learning. This is necessary to fulfil the existing gaps in today’s pedagogy. By combining the affordability and accessibility of online learning software, you make a lasting impact on the knowledge delivery system.
The hybrid classroom approach could, thus, stand as a solution to the critical problems faced by the education sector. It caters to the unresponsive, less-interactive online learning sessions, making traditional face-to-face learning more engaging and fun.
Author: Ila Mishra