11th, March 2013
Online and classroom learning are core to education today. While learning institutions mainly employed classroom learning, today there is a shift to online learning, as classroom learning is being abandoned. Online learning has its advantages and disadvantages, just as classroom learning. Some students might find classroom learning more resourceful compared to online learning, while others might prefer online learning. Whichever the case, both classroom and online learning should promote effective learning for students in the same measure. It is therefore, the responsibility of the instructors to ensure that classroom learning is as exciting and resourceful as the online learning. Various features, which result in successful classroom learning can be applied to online learning for effective educational outcomes. It is possible for online and classroom learning to result in positive educational outcomes, despite their different modes of presentation, only if instructors in both learning modes identify the learning needs of the students, and address them, while creating the best learning environment for students.
According to Hirschy and Wilson (2002), online learning is not a new phenomenon today. However, this is infiltrating the educational system at a higher rate today compared to the past. Many policy makers in the education sector support online learning for a number of reasons. Most importantly, this mode of learning is quite cheap, compared to classroom learning. Since most learning institutions operate on strict budgets and look for ways of minimizing their expenditure, online learning would be more appropriate for them. Additionally, this is convenient for students, as they can learn from different regions without having to attend a class physically. Online learning started in the early 20th Century. Since then, this has been advancing slowly taking root in society (Moore, Dickson-Deane, & Galyen, 2011). Today, approximately 1.5 million schools in the US have adopted online learning. Online learning utilizes the internet, instead of a physical environment, and this can be adopted partially or wholly (Bakia, et al 2012).
Instructor presence and interaction is paramount in classroom learning. If the instructor is present but does not interact with learners, it is impossible for learning to be successful (Mandernach, Gonzales & Garrett, 2006). Therefore, instructor interaction is a prerequisite for successful classroom learning. This also translates to the online learning, where both the presence of the instructor and instructor interaction need to be felt by the online learners for successful learning. These determine the nature of classroom setting in both online and classroom learning. The type of classroom setting is an important determinant of successful learning. In the online class however, it is more challenging to set a classroom environment (Mandernach, Gonzales & Garrett, 2006). This is because of the delivery mode involved, as it is based on technology, and not personal dynamics. Therefore, online instructors have the responsibility of ensuring that they meet this challenge, and develop a classroom setting in their online delivery. Instructors in online learning achieve this through engaging with the students more, either through online dialogs, discussions, and consultations. This inspires and motivates learners to work harder. Instructor presence and interaction has made online learning to be more successful in the recent past, compared to classroom learning. The US Department of Education acknowledges this in New York iSchool, where the approach has worked effectively (Bakia, et al 2012).
Instructors in both online and classroom learning should engage their students in active learning. This guarantees them successful educational outcomes. In the classroom, an instructor should spare considerable time for the students to engage in discussions, group work, and various assessments. This allows for deeper learning for the students. On the other hand, instructors in the online learning should encourage interactive learning through making individual work with group work to be motivating to students. The online strategies, which can ensure this, include online discussions between students and their instructors. Instructors should also present the online students with continuous assessments. For these assessments to be effective, immediate feedback should be guaranteed for the students. Additionally, instructors should extend the computer lab hours with students, to allow for online face-to-face interaction with the online students. During these online face-to-face interactions, the instructors should be able to give one-on-one support to the students, and address their various weaknesses. An example of how interactive learning has improved online is the case of Middlebury College in Vermont. Here interactive language programs are adopted including social networking and 3D games. The social networking helps different online students to interact with other online students from different states, including the non-native speakers, with the aid of the language programs. In this case, student motivation rises, and this leads to good academic performance (Bakia, et al 2012).
Personalized learning leads to successful classroom learning. Therefore, the same can be applied to online learning to produce similar learning outcomes. In personalized learning, an instructor pays close attention to the students’ interests and strongholds in academics, and capitalizes on these to realize the students’ potentials. This helps to arouse the curiosity of students and allow for a deeper learning. The National Education Technology Plan in the US realizes the importance of personalizing learning in online learning, and encourages more institutions to adopt this. This approach has been tested and proved effective in online learning. In the Ohio State University, the online Statistics class was redesigned to allow students to choose the type of lectures and labs they are comfortable with. Results showed that these performed much better than the students in classroom learning. The University therefore, basing on these results, changed the schedule for this course to include a reduction in classroom lectures to three times a week from five times a week (Bakia, et al 2012).
Conclusively, online learning can be as successful, or even more successful than classroom learning if the concerned instructors employ the right strategies in the teaching process. The same features that result in successful classroom learning can also be employed in online learning to produce even better results. Such include the maximization of instructor interaction, allowing for active learning, and personalized learning. These among others can be applied to improve the educational outcomes of online learning, which is taking root in society today.
Bakia, M., Shear, L., Toyama, Y. & Lasseter, A. (2012). Understanding the Implications of
Online Learning for Educational Productivity. U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. Retrieved from http://ctl.sri.com/news/ImplicationsOnlineLearning2.pdf
Hirschy, A. & Wilson, M. (2002). The Sociology of the Classroom and Its Influence on Student
Learning. Peabody Journal of Education, 77(3): 85–100. Retrieved from http://library.sau.edu/committee/hirschy.pdf
Mandernach, J., Gonzales, R. & Garrett, A. (2006). An Examination of Online Instructor
Presence via Threaded Discussion Participation. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 2(4). Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol2no4/mandernach.htm
Moore, J., Dickson-Deane, C. & Galyen, K. (2011). E-Learning, online learning and distance
learning environments: Are they the same? Internet and Higher Education 14(2011): 129-135. Retrieved from https://scholar.vt.edu/access/content/group/5deb92b5-10f3-49db-adeb-7294847f1ebc/e-Learning%20Scott%20Midkiff.pdf
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