Enabling student-centered teaching approaches.
Every student has a unique learning style. Some students are visual learners, some learn better when they “learn by doing.” Web-based learning environments permit the instructor to build one course, yet implement a variety of resources, so students can utilize materials in whichever way works best for them.
3 of 6 Benefits of Online Learning
For example: Instructors can use CourseInfo’s Course Documents and Course Information areas to post all sorts of support documents for students, including handouts, audio clips, java applets, reserved readings, and lecture notes. If this information is available to the students, they can access content and review it at a self-determined pace. This provides increased opportunities for students to view and review course elements without creating an additional drain on TAs or instructors.
Accommodate different learning styles
An instructor can also present these materials in many formats to accommodate different types of learning styles. For example, if an instructor puts both lecture notes and slides online, both visual and auditory learners benefit. Students who prefer to focus on “listening” and “watching” during lecture do not have to worry that they are missing important concepts while scrambling to take copious notes.
They can focus on understanding the material and concepts as they are presented. Students with attention difficulties or those who get overwhelmed by organizational tasks also benefit, because materials provided show how the instructor has grouped and prepared materials in the handouts, and indicate what items are most important.
Provide opportunities for exploration
Instructors can also provide increased opportunity for student exploration and activity learning by putting related web sites into CourseInfo’s External Links feature. When instructors reference these types of web sites content reinforcement is provided as students can see how course material is utilized in “real world” situations.
Encourage additional rehearsal time
Additional benefits for those who “learn by doing” occur when students participate in online discussions, as students are exposed to an extra period of information rehearsal. Typically, students rehearse information when they study for exams or complete assignments. However, they also rehearse information when formulating thoughts into sentences and typing those thoughts into the computer. When instructors post discussion questions or short essay assignments in the online portion of a course, students must attend to and reflect on the subject matter before responding. This results in reflection and articulation of content, as the very process of reporting and writing about what they have learned engages students in an activity learning experience.
Providing 24/7 accessibility to course materials
Some students work best in the morning, some in the evening. Some students commute to campus and others take night classes. Scheduling time for homework and group projects can be difficult depending on each student’s course, job, and personal responsibilities.
4 of 6 Benefits of Online Learning
Continual access to materials
When course content and activities are provided online, students no longer need to worry about accessing course materials. Students can complete assignments during their most productive times. Busy students can choose to download readings or take practice exams whenever it is most convenient, in the evening after kids are put to bed, or at 4am during a bout of insomnia. Continual access to course documents also insures students can obtain materials at any time, removing the opportunity for frustrations such as “The library was closed,” “All the copies of reserve readings were checked out,” or “I missed that handout during your lecture.”
For Example: Anna is a commuting student who takes courses along with her work and family responsibilities. A guest speaker for her 10 am astronomy section is scheduled to speak, but after class time, at 8 pm. Because the course is supplemented with an online component, the professor coordinates a live chat session with the guest speaker. Anna attends the lecture by logging in and even asking questions from home.
Remove reliance on physical attendance
In traditional education, students working on group projects must coordinate schedules. In distance learning environments, this may not even be possible, forcing participants to work independently. When web-based collaborative tools are available, coordination is no longer an issue. Providing a project team with asynchronous discussions and file uploads, students can work in groups without the constraints of meeting together at a certain date, time, and location.
For example: One student group has a member named George who works nights. Unfortunately George can’t make the scheduled group meetings. When using the group communication tools in CourseInfo, the George can complete his part of the assignment and post it in the group File Transfer Area. This way, even if he is not physically present at the meeting, group members can access and edit his work.
Providing just-in-time methods to assess and evaluate student progress
Learner assessments are essential in education. Tests and surveys inform the instructor whether teaching methods and course structures are successful. These assessments also determine if student progress is satisfactory. Online assessment tools provide instructors with many ways to build, distribute, and compile information quickly and easily.