New Learning Models | Academically Speaking

Check out the full article on SNHU’s Academically Speaking Blog – a section is below:)

New Learning Models | Academically Speaking

New Learning Models

Posted on December 8, 2017 by
Dr. Sasha Thackaberry

Historically in online learning, the dominant model has been transitioning content delivery from a face-to-face format to an online format. This emphasis paralleled the development of distance learning, and utilizes a primarily “broadcast” model of education, and, despite research advances in effective pedagogy in online courses, largely still dominates online education. Though the history of online learning in the U.S. begins with behaviorism and moves to cognitivism and constructivism online courses are still largely content delivery based according to Stefanie A. Hillen and Melodee Landis in their article, “Two perspectives on e-learning design: A synopsis of a US and a European analysis”.

This is beginning to change. Recent innovations in higher education have moved the focus from information delivery and seat time to a focus on outcomes According to Andrew P. Kelly and Frederick M. Hess in their article, “Beyond retrofitting: Innovation in higher education”.

Shanna Smith Jaggars and Di Xu revealed four primary themes that contribute to quality in online courses in their article, “Predicting online student outcomes from a measure of course quality”:

  1. A well designed and organized course interface
  2. Clear learning objectives and standards
  3. Strength and variety of interpersonal communication
  4. Effectiveness of technology use

A wide variety of evidence supports each of these components, however social engagement in the online environment was heavily supported in being a critical component to student success – both learner to faculty and learner to learner. Needless to say, the technology has lagged behind these developments—many technology systems like Learning Management Systems (LMSs) lack robust communication and collaboration tools. Many LMSs are also built on legacy technology, and eschew user interface design in favor of a standard format created seemingly without user experience designers.

One of the many disruptions of MOOCs (Massive, Open Online Courses) was the emphasis on a consumer-grade technology experience. These newer platforms were freed from legacy assumptions and were developed from a website perspective as opposed to an LMS perspective. The learner was now looked upon also as a user.

This “learner-as-user” paradigm aligns well with newer learning models like Competency-Based Education (CBE) and accelerated learning models. The focus on the learner-as-user comes at a time when many LMSs are transforming, attempting to address usability issues and social collaborative learning needs. The pedagogy (or in this case, andragogy and heutagogy) is aligning with these market forces in order to improve the learner experience all around.

The increased influence of open standards through IMS Global certified standards like LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) and Caliper (a data standard,) have moved the dial on what publisher content and tools should be able to integrate with out of the box. While custom APIs are still necessary in many cases, moving to a more “plug-and-play” system focus increases the flexibility of the system, the data that can be extracted from it for analysis, and an integrated learner experience. The additional content and tools are brought into the LMS in a seamless fashion, rather than sending the learner out to experience a variety of learning environments….

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