Wednesday, March 02, 2011

How to Improve Pedagogy in Online Learning

This guest post is contributed by Paula Dierkins, who writes on the topic of PhD Degree Online . Paula can be reached at her email id:

A good teacher can make all the difference between liking or hating a subject – there are times when you develop interest in a subject only because of the way it is taught just as there are times when you fare badly in another because it hasn’t been taught the way it should. Teachers influence us more than we realize, especially in our younger years. As we get older and become more independent, the ease with which we pick up a subject depends on how well it is explained or taught – some teachers are better at their job than others.
In the online learning environment, teachers are largely invisible. They are not physically present, just an almost anonymous entity behind the screen. This kind of pedagogical situation is challenging to say the least – you don’t know how well the information you’re passing on has been received and you cannot use facial expressions and gestures to convey your point or augment your words. Not many regular teachers opt for this kind of pedagogy because they’re not comfortable in this environment.

Teaching in the online environment involves more facilitation and guidance than actual teaching. The teacher is a resource whom the students use to understand their study material better and augment their existing knowledge. Pedagogy in online learning can be improved by:

  •  Engaging student attention and interest through tasks and activities that enhance their learning and make it more effective
  • Trying to make assignments and projects interesting and challenging by including practical application of theories learned – as opposed to rote memorization, this approach allows you to test how much students have understood from the material that is provided to them.
  • Encouraging students to extend their sources of knowledge – for example, providing them access to informative and authentic websites could egg them on to supplement their knowledge and gain a better understanding of the subject.
  • Allowing the learner to be more in control of the learning process.
  • Designing courses that don’t just instruct but which also incite curiosity and a passion to discover more. 
Online learning is often perceived as less of teaching on the instructor’s part and more of self-learning on the student’s part, so any measure that allows the student to learn more capably will improve online pedagogy significantly.

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