How should the learning be structured to achieve the best outcomes?

This is largely a teaching decision based on the learning required, the material to be presented and the learners involved.

It is of course also necessary to consider the skills that are being developed as it is important to utilise online learning where it will have an appropriate impact.

It would be of little use if you are expecting a student to demonstrate serving in a restaurant as, even with video recording, the observation and feedback would be difficult. A student may however review a video clip that has a number of points that are important to consider when serving and could be given a knowledge test of the points preparatory to physically practising the skill. You can read the material below or check out the information at Designing e-Learning on the Flexible Learning Framework website.

Arranging Material for Learning

In general learning material could be arranged using these methods:

Content based

All material is loaded and accessed based on a content structure. Learners would access the material as required by some lesson structure that directs them to the appropriate content. For instance images could be grouped together in an online gallery but accessed in different ways while learning.

Activity based

Material is grouped in activities. For example speaking, reading, listening and writing activities are groups and learning is focussed on one of these activities.

Competency/Task/Unit based

Material could be grouped together as required by the competency being learned or may reflect the task that has to be achieved. The competency or task may be part of or the whole unit that the learner is studying. Where a unit is project based for instance all the material may be prepared to focus entirely on this project. It is also possible that project based learning could be individual or collaborative so initial material may be provided by the teacher and the remainder contributed or enhanced by the learners.

Lesson based

A lesson may deal with a range of skills or competencies and the material may reflect the logical flow of the lesson(s). It is important to realise that the logical flow of the lesson may be such that the lesson can be learned in multiple paths. This is especially feasible with elearning as the material can be assembled in a structure that may be investigated in a number of ways or deliberately controlled to ensure that learning follows a particular pathway when a range of underpinning knowledge is required at each stage.

Mixing eLearning and Other Learning

How can a decision be made about the 'right mix' of learning to be effective? Well notice first that the heading does not say "Mixing eLearning and Face to Face Learning" because these are only two of the learning possibilities open to learners today.

It is important to recognise that learners are exposed to a great deal of information and situations everyday that impact on their learning.
Certainly they may be in a workplace that may have a little or a lot of activity that relates to their current learning but there are all other life experiences that also connect in some way to current learning.
So we should not only recognise the richness of learning from life but to take advantage of it wherever possible to support, reinforce or even challenge other learning. Teachers have been doing this for many years - using real world scenarios/situations to involve students in their learning and make it more real and relevant.

As a consequence, learning is now about blending the opportunities that come from all learning sources and bringing that together for the learner. A teacher must make a decision about how to mix these opportunities to get the best result. To assist with this compare some of the values of different learning opportunities:

Learning Aspect
Face to Face
Easy but requires control of dominant voices
Easy and may assist less dominant participants
Frequent but not structured around learning
Frequent but not structured around learning
Self Paced Learning
Possible but not always efficient use of classroom time
Easy, learners can choose when, where and how long
Demand of workplace to complete the task takes priority
Opportunity is available but not always used
Easy with classroom management required
Easy with students unable to disrupt the presentation
Not usually used
Not usually used
Practical Work
Not in classroom usually workshop, lab or field
May be simulated, may demonstate with video, not satisfactory for some activities
Virtually all 'practical' but lesser tolerance of mistakes while learning
Opportunity is available but not always used
Remote Learning
Not possible without electronic link
Many possibilities to provide material
Only if work has been located remotely. Use mobile technology
Opportunity is available but not always used
Easy in classroom
Easy with additional material available for reference if desired
Sometimes discussed in workplace
Opportunity is available May be discussed

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