Three Disadvantages of Traditional Classroom Learning

In a traditional classroom setting, students are made to sit passively while the teacher delivers a lecture. There are reasons as to why many teachers seem dissatisfied with this practice. For now, I shall limit myself to only three:

a. Students’ focus is set in the wrong direction; in taking notes rather than understanding and absorbing new concepts.

Result:

• students’ inability to grasp key ideas and concepts,

• Failed lesson objective.

b. Too much focus on presentation, little time left for practice: Since a teacher has to deliver a fixed number of concepts within a limited time, most classroom activities are sufficed to the presentation stage only. Practice is left for the student to do as homework.

Result:

• This strategy does not allow for students to experiment with new concepts. Their learning is put to a halt at a certain stage; they end up cramming concepts, and are unable to produce anything fruitful, except generic answers to exam questions.

• Furthermore, many students might get stuck while doing problem sets at home. This too thwarts their performance. If they are unable to master one concept, and have been unable to practice it effectively, we cannot possibly expect them to grasp a newer concept based on the previous one,

c. A teacher’s lecture is generally one-size-fit-all. Not every student has the same pace of learning. While some students can follow the teacher’s lecture with convenience, most of the others require time to chow on the information that they are getting. Also, each student has a different learning style. You can’t expect a kinesthetic learner to master a concept by just listening to a lecture. If a visual learner gets worse grades than an auditory learner, it doesn’t mean that the former is slow or dull; it might simply mean that the classroom strategies were designed for the auditory learner only.

Result:

• This results in the students’ inability to keep pace with the teachers’. The world stereotypes them as ‘slow learners’.

• Poor grades and lagging in classroom performance is a major contributor to a poor self-image and lack of confidence. In fact, the failure of many students to achieve what they are capable of achieving can be attributed to the above factors.

• This not only mars potential talent, it also causes distress to a lot many dedicated and hardworking teachers.

The traditional public school system and classroom practices are far from perfect. The responsibility befalls the shoulders of us educationists that we review the factors which make the present school system ineffective. Only then would we be able to rectify these problem areas in order to create classrooms that deliver. In the coming days, I shall be posting more on these issues, and offering practical solutions to them.

What Are the 7 Laws of Adult Learning?

Organizations should unite to take a different approach when teaching the adults. They need to understand the learning strategies, which are appropriate for these adult learners. Malcolm S. Knowles is known for adopting the theory of “Andragogy” (“andra” meaning “man or adult”). According to Knowles, teaching an adult is different from teaching a child since the maturity levels between the two age groups differ largely.

Anyways, coming back to the laws of adult learning, let us discuss them one by one.

Law of Previous Experience

Adults are generally experienced, possessing a high degree of knowledge about the real world. Hence, training programs should be framed in such a way that incorporates new learning with links to the learner’s experiences.

Law of Relevance

Organizers should design courses in terms of its relevance with the trainee’s life and work. You can include multimedia elements and role-plays to increase connections between the learning situation and real world.

Law of Self-direction

Adults are generally self-directed. Hence, instructors should try to engage the attendees with the training process rather than just lecturing on the topic of discussion. Moreover, mature students prefer to get involved with the training or learning situation rather than just sit back listening to idle lectures.

Law of Expectations

Adults have many expectations from a meeting, conference or a training program. They will not attend events that have no elements of satisfying their needs. Similarly, they will participate in a specific class or event with the mission to fulfill their demands and business objectives. As a trainer, you should plan and execute a program leading to maximum attendee satisfaction and ROI.

Law of Active Learning

Adults love active learning. Therefore, you can include audio-visual and multimedia elements to make the learning process highly interesting than just organizing mere reading or passive listening to lectures. Many organizations that host onsite as well as online educational classes or corporate training programs include text chats, online forums, etc. to discuss and share website links, videos, and images with the learners.

Law of Practice and Feedback

Adult students like to do homework and repeatedly practice things they have recently learned. They also wish to get relevant feedback and participate in polls or Q&A sessions to gain in-depth knowledge about new concepts discussed in during lessons.

Law of Individual Differences

Each individual has his own learning style. Keeping this in mind, instructors should prepare the learning sessions accordingly to satisfy the needs of all participants. An overall, general learning strategy may not be successful when teaching a class full of heterogeneous people.

5 Technologies That Transformed the Process of Learning

The invention of the internet and the new types of technologies in the 21st Century has transformed the traditional concepts of learning taking place in conventional ‘brick and mortar’ classrooms. Technology has indeed made learning more cost-effective and easily accessible. Staff members in such educational institutions also have a new friend in technology since it helps to bring about administrative efficiency to manage the overall learning process.

In this article, I have mentioned the best of technological inventions that has transformed the very structure of teaching and learning.

Wireless Connectivity

There has been a noticeable growth in the popularity factor of wireless connectivity these days. From corporate organizations to educational institutions, every organization is installing broadband connections in their respective sites to improve the process of work, training, and learning. Wireless access to broadband services is now fundamental to the way teachers connect and interact with their students, faculty, and research staff. Today, wireless connectivity is needed to conduct online classes and training, webinars, video conferencing, and so on.

E-books Downloading Option

Students don’t need to buy countless number of text books to study and reference anymore. They can rather save this money by simply downloading e-books from Amazon, Borders and Barnes & Noble, and such similar other e-book sites. Some of the e-bookstores allow downloading of books for free while others require you to purchase the e-books.

Adoption of Mobile Payment Systems

Mobile payments are continuously on the rise as the more preferred transactional platform amongst individuals worldwide. Instead of paying with cash or via paper checks, people prefer to pay using their mobile devices, including cell phones and Smartphone. Mobile payments happen through direct mobile billing, via the web, and through direct operator billing. In the education sector, students can use their cell phones to pay admission and course fees in real-time. They don’t need to travel all the way to the administration office to clear payment formalities.

Use of “Google Search”

“Google Search” is the most widely used search engine in the world. It is used by millions of people to get answers to their queries. Students are using Google Search everyday for a multitude of purpose.

Emailing

Students can instantly get in touch with the teacher after school hours via emails. School, college, and university teachers are now encouraging students to contact them via emails covering issues that need to be resolved at the earliest. Often teachers who don’t find the time to listen to individual student problems during normal class hours can go through emails and address problems as soon as possible. Besides, students can always send their draft projects or assignments to the professor to have a glance through and point out areas that require improvement.

Learning to Interact in New Ways

Technology is changing the way we connect and share ideas by giving us unprecedented ease to communicate with others all over the globe. In recent years, emailing has given way to group micro-blogging. Many people now prefer to use their cell phones to text rather than to talk. For good or ill, the preference for virtual communication is changing the skills we use to interface with one another in profound ways.

Group micro-blogging on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook is all the rage. It allows someone to quickly scan a list of brief posts from friends, family, and others they find interesting. This helps people stay connected with one another without the time-consuming chore of creating and reading multiple emails. Unlike private emails, the posts can usually be viewed by the general public as well. If someone likes what they read, they can elect to follow your posts and you can choose whether to follow them in return. This is how networks of people with similar interest grow to include folks from around the globe that likely would have never met in person.

A recent article in The Tennessean highlights a high school Principal who gave her cell phone number to all 2000 students. She receives and answers an average of 300 messages per week. Parents and faculty have her number too. Because everyone has full schedules, this has become a useful tool to open dialogue with the student body that may never have taken place otherwise.

Engaging with others at our convenience has become one of the major attractions of communicating by these methods. While it increases some level of connectivity, doing so comes at a price. When we read messages that were posted earlier in the day, we are no longer interfacing with others in real-time and are participating out of context with the moment the communication was issued.

We also lose the ability to communicate via body language. Reading text messages does not fully convey tone of voice or the person’s demeanor. When we are in the physical presence of another person, we have the opportunity to see and feel their state of mind even when they don’t speak words. When two people are less than ten feet apart, they are engulfed in each other’s heart-fields. The electrical activity of the heart generates this field and it can be measured with EKG probes, even when they are placed several feet away from the body. Because the physical body is a multi-faceted antenna system, mirroring the body shape of the other person further opens the dialogue. This technique is so successful that it is widely used by counselors and salesman. Texting eliminates all of these useful communication skills.

Even when folks are texting in real-time, each has the opportunity to take a moment to consider their reply. By using virtual communication methods, we lose the ability to witness someone’s initial reaction and how they actually received the information. This is especially true when someone is posting to a forum that is publicly viewable.

When we meet new people only in the virtual realm, all we know of them is what they chose to share. Even though many may use their real names or include a brief profile, communicating in the cyber world still offers a certain level of anonymity and a sense of control over what others are able to know about the people they chat with regularly.

A study that examined children interfacing with robotic pets clearly showed that most folks have an innate ability to humanize inanimate objects by projecting their own feelings onto it. After playing with the robotic pets, the children were asked if they would rather keep their human best friend or spend time with the toy. Overwhelmingly, most children immediately responded that they preferred the pet. Such reactions do raise questions of whether we are just caught up in the novelty of technology or whether we really do prefer virtual relationships because they are fun. Not to mention the lack of real compromise and availability they offer in being easier to deal with because we can simply put them on ignore when we have other things to do.

Remember when music synthesizers first came on the market? For over a decade, the buying public went crazy for pop music that included electronically derived sounds. Synthesizers are still just as popular today, but for a different reason. They are most often used to mimic the sound of real instruments and allow musicians a wider palette of sound without becoming a virtuoso on multiple instruments. Another interesting twist to this scenario is the surge of popularity in the video game Guitar Hero. It has actually encouraged more folks to take lessons on a real guitar.

Perhaps virtual communication is just a phase that will lead to a desire for more face-to-face communication on a global scale. If so, will internet video satisfy that urge and continue the illusion that we are fully interfacing with others? Interacting via an avatar in virtual worlds, such as Second Life, are becoming increasingly popular as well. Because we have such a high capacity to project our inner reality onto the activities we see on the screen, will we want to ditch our physical relationships in favor of our digital ones? Only time will tell what interpersonal skills we will lose or gain as technology continually introduces new ways to communicate.

The Facts About Collaborative Learning

I completely agree with the statement “If we are interested in the students’ future, then our way of teaching must reflect the future. ”

The right education is the one, which is planned according to the future need. Present students are future job-seekers. The future working environment won’t be the same as today. Due to globalization the world changes into a global society, and the advanced technology transforms the organizational infrastructure. So in the future, the students will work as team workers of wide spread teams, in globalized organizations, using ICT (Information and Communication Technology) tools to enhance the given jobs.

Keeping the above working scenario in mind, the current education should provide the students, the needed knowledge and training, to face the working environment with confidence.

When we seek a learning method, which consists of team work, and using ICT tools, Collaborative learning appears to be the right answer.

What is Collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning is a method of learning, related to co-operative learning, where students form in to groups, to learn and achieve common academic goals, using ICT tools.

In traditional learning, a teacher is solely responsible for everything connected with teaching. The students used to work individually and approach the teacher for needed guidance. In this system, the students’ work alone and compete with eachother. Sharing and helping plays a very small role in learning. Solo teaching and self achievement are the primary features here.

Whereas in collaborative learning the students are more involved, and play an active part in learning and sharing. It encourages students to support and inspire one another.

In this kind of learning, each student is responsible for himself/herself, and for the group. The students help one another; work as a group, learn as a group, and reach the goal, as a group.

Collaborative learning, prepares the students to take more responsibility for themselves and the team. It is based on the idea that learning is a social act where the students discus the subject in depth, and through discussion learning occurs.

Most of us agree that we usually learn more by teaching than we ever learnt as students!

Research also supports this idea, as it has been found that students who learn most are those who give and receive in depth explanations, about what they are learning and how they are learning.

It is proven, that students who work collaboratively achieved higher scores than those who work alone. Plus, students who were at lower levels of achievement, improved significantly when worked with groups.

Research suggests that collaborative learning brings positive results such as –

Responsibility

Collaborative learning shifts the responsibility of learning from the teacher to student. The student becomes a self-directed learner. Sharing the knowledge with the group makes the student a teacher too.

Interest and Involvement

Debates and negotiations create interest on the subject, interested student becomes more involved.

Adjustment

Group diversity paves the way for positive learning. A student after faced with different explanations, on the subject, may re- consider his/her previous viewpoint. The group also prepares the student to respect others opinion and teaches, that denials and criticism are part of learning.

Sharing

Students realize the value of sharing, and that sharing and receiving are, the two sides of the same coin. They also learn that sharing improves the knowledge.

Collaborative learning helps students to become actively and constructively involved in the topic, to feel responsible for their own learning and that of the group, to settle group conflicts amicably and to improve healthy teamwork skills.

Disadvantages of collaborative learning

Some of the disadvantages of collaborative learning are –

Power

Mismatched personalities in a group lead to unequal treatment. The strong one tries to dominate the group.

Out of focus

During the debate, unwanted and prolonged discussions occur.

Speed

Different speeds of learning, results in uneven learning. The dull students face forcing to act fast, and take decisions without understanding the subject completely.

Extra burden

Responsibility of helping dull students creates an extra burden to the advanced students. Some dull or lazy students fail to show effort or depend on other team mates for completion of work.

Undeserved success

Regardless of their contribution, some students get undeserved success.

Why collaborative learning?

Every system has its advantages and disadvantages. When selecting a system according to the need, we go for one which has more pros and less cons. After analyzing the pros and cons, on time of application, we concentrate more on corns and find ways to lessen the negative effects of it.

In the same way, when we go for a system which reflects future working environment, consisting team works, and ICT tools, collaborative learning seems the best option when compared with other methods. It has more advantages and less disadvantages.

Teachers part in collaborative learning.

Teacher has a more important part to play in collaborative learning.

A teacher can assess the students’ capabilities. Accordingly when giving goals or forming groups the important points like conflict resolution skills, mismatched personalities, uneven distribution of workload, should be taken care of.

The teacher should carefully plan and implement the three G’s, Goal, Group, and Guidance. Good explanation at each stage will bring better results.

Explain the collaborative learning steps.

  • Discussing the aspects,
  • Listening carefully others opinion,
  • Consideration of possibilities, and
  • Deciding accordingly.

The fundamentals of group behavior.

  • All the students in a group are equal, regardless of their short comings.
  • Every group member should have equal right and opportunity.
  • Everyone should share the work and do their duties.

Absolute NO’s

No power games and taking sides.

No prolonged or out of subject arguments.

No escape from duties and discussions.

Goal

Plan the assignment, according to the student’s grade level. Provide appropriate time. Clearly define goals and objectives.

Assignments can include writing projects, problem solving, laboratory work, study teams, debates. For higher classes, Instead of an artificial topic, assignments based on everyday problems, or real world problems can produce much better results in collaborative learning.

Group

In the lower grades, the teacher should form the groups by mix and matching the dull and bright.

In the upper grades the teacher can act as an adviser in forming the groups.

In higher studies the students can choose the group where they are comfortable.

Guidance

According to their educational level, the teacher should provide needed guidance:

For Lower grades – monitor the students’ progress regularly.

For Upper grades– monitor the students’ progress periodically.

For Higher studies – enquire the students’ progress individually and asses how they are progressing. Here some students may act as if they are involved and celebrate team’s success as theirs. The right form of questions on the subject and asking about their views show how much the student is involved in the team work.

How to get more out of collaborative learning?

Comfort and co-operation makes group work a success. The main features of collaborative learning are GROUP, LEARN, SHARE, and ACHIEVE.

Early introduction of collaborative learning fetches maximum benefits to the students. The primary requirement of collaborative learning is understanding and adjusting to the behavior patterns of the group. When a student gets appropriate training in this field, maximum benefits can be achieved.