A better learning format for busy adults

How to facilitate better learning for busy adults

Having done a lot of face-to-face traditional training, I am the new convert to the ultimate in blended learning - flipped class + teaching online. Wonder and sad how I wasted so much time - of learners and mine - in traditional teaching. Till now, it was necessary that I travel to the venue and so must 20 learners, from different locations in city/country. We all had to be together at the same time, for a full day talking of basics. Their managers, and my wife, cursed.

How stupid and uneconomical. How old fashioned. Almost medieval.

Then I hit upon this new way.

How does the new way unfold for everyone

 In the new way, I develop teaching content using Moodle VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), which allows inputs in ppt, audio, video, pdf and more. The material is uploaded so learners can access it online at their own convenience of time and place. Each learner extracts some value out of the basic material and generates a personalised list of doubts. From whatever he has understood, he applies at his workplace and generates yet more doubts. Then he takes up quizzes and assessment exercises that have more interaction in them, than is possible in a real class.

Then I upload an online assignment, with task assessment criterion, sample submission and a structured assessment form. Learners apply their understanding of the content to this, take up the assignment using the sample as a guide and submit their work to his cohorts. Each work is graded automatically as well as by them. Since he also gets to grade the assignment of someone else, he learns yet more.  Double learning.

Learning and basic practice having been accomplished, I now announce a virtual live class on WizIQ, Moodle Class or Zoom. At the given time, we all sit on our computers, in our own rooms. I invite them to ask doubts and clarify them - in video and audio, using powerful tools like virtual whiteboard, screen sharing etc. Sometimes it is so real that I feel like reaching out and touching my students.

The class has been flipped. Instead of spending quality ‘together’ time in basic teaching that leaves little time left for clarification of doubts, we did just the reverse. The ‘together’ time was utilised in the trainer clarifying personalised doubts, after the learners had tried everything to clarify them on their own, and failed. That’s how adults learn.

Now I invite learners to interact with each other, using social media tools. That reinforces learning. This is known as Social constructivism, a learning theory that places emphasis on the collaborative nature of learning, with the underlying assumption that knowledge is constructed through the interaction of others

If still required, we decide to meet physically and help each other. But only as a last resort, not the first. After all, this is 2020, not 1990. It doesn't matter whether the learner is in Delhi or Dallas, Trivandrum or Toronto. This is a great model for individualised coaching too.

What has happened above is a blend of self-paced and instruction led learning. Initially, it was self-paced learning when the learning was asynchronous i.e. there was no need for everyone to be on computers at the same time. Learners controlled the pace of their own learning. Later, when instructor and learners met together, online or in a real room, it became synchronous learning.

If you still need more convincing that web learning has definite benefits over instructor-led learning, read on -

  • Traditional courses are great for seeking direct clarifications from the instructor - there and then. But who really benefits and to what extent? A typical trainer can, at best, offer barely 10 minutes of each training hour, for providing clarifications. Most of this time is hogged by socially aggressive students rather than by slow learners. On the other hand, a web workshop offers unlimited facilities even to slow learners. By the time a slow learner realizes he has a doubt, the class has moved on and the content slide is also no longer on screen. In a web workshop, however, the material is available online at the convenience of just a log-in, so you can access it whenever you need to.  
  • Instructor-led courses move rather fast and provide little opportunities to the learner to relate the learnings to his actual work scenario. In a web course, the repeatability of the web course and the feature of learner-controlled pace makes it possible for the learner to imbibe a point, relate it to work context and only then, move on. This is a huge advantage.
  • Instructor-led course offer learning from peers and from socialisation also. This is surely a powerful feature. However, the Learners' Forum in web courses, compensate for this deficiency reasonably well.
Last modified: Sunday, 12 April 2020, 5:52 PM