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Evolving the Learning Model & LMS

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Recently, Campus Technology published an article titled, The Hidden Cost of Active Learning. It is an article written by an instructor on the verge of burnout because of the “connected” lifestyle we all live in the Internet of Things. Instructors are now starting to go through the same push back corporations have been dealing with for years…the expectations of response times. Our impatient, sometimes-narcissistic expectations of instant gratification span from immediate responses to our text messages, information inquiries and emails. We want to know now. The accessibility of information is a both a benefit and a curse. The work/life balance paradigm has shifted and both are intertwined. We each must develop our own sense of balance to maintain our sanity. For myself, my phone is practically with me 24/7/365, including next to my bed while I sleep. For others, it’s only on 9-5. I believe we must define what we will allow our friends, learners, and employees to expect from us. I call it “setting reality”, which sometimes has to be reset.

The instructor in the article discusses their flipped classroom concept:

“Students watch the equivalent of two lectures' worth of material each week as online videos at home, and they submit very short reflections on each lecture (focusing on what they understood most and least from each lecture, and why). The first class meeting of each week is spent informally reviewing the topics that the majority of students reported to be most confusing, and the second day each week is spent on active learning exercises or activities. Each week ends with a take-home quiz to be turned in at the start of the next week. This is a total of four assignments per student, per week. And, as we all know, students take their work far more seriously when they know that it will be thoroughly read, assessed and graded by the instructor. So, I read each and every assignment, grade it and provide personalized feedback to each student. This semester, I had 86 students spread across four courses; a fairly typical teaching load at an institution like mine. Eighty-six students, each submitting four assignments a week — that's 344 assignments each week or 3,784 assignments this semester, not including my all-essay unit exams, papers and cumulative finals.”

The interaction between instructors and students online is more vigorous because most of the time the instructor must respond to each student individually rather than to the entire class. However, there are a few tools and processes we recommend to help alleviate this burden.

In summary, while there have been some articles about the “death of the LMS” – and we agree learning management system will definitely have to evolve – we at Edvance360 feel the issue is the methodology applied to learning. Technology is only as good as the human effort or efficient use thereof.

To reinforce this consider that in the beginning the methodology for online learning seemed to be to upload all Word/PDF documents, PowerPoints, and test questions to the LMS. This was never conducive to effective learning because it does not create enough interaction, which leads to poor retention.

Faculty and course designers must design courses to engage and interact with the learner throughout the life of the course. This is quite different than entertaining students, which some learners want. But it should not be centered on innumerable and continual essays, papers, or useless discussion posts (outlined by the instructor in the above quote). Reflections should be encouraged to be those that lead to activity or thought-provocation, not what they did/did not understand. Use debate. Use teaching assistants. Use group projects. Use ePortfolios. Use the tools to build learners.

Both the learner and instructor must make the effort, as it is an investment on both parts. Learning will always be a continuous process that requires constant attention and both parties must be committed.

The new course design methodology requires an extensive amount of work, but it is worth it with the correct LMS.

Contact sales@edvance360.com to learn how to leverage our LMS and social learning platform to deliver interactive and engaging courses. We love to show off our course tools designed to automate manual processes for instructors so they can spend more time with students.