Comparing Pedagogies

A US-based research report has revealed that even though students participating in online courses seem to score at a higher level than when students follow the same course in a traditional setting the report raises a number of questions, such as…can we really compare online courses to traditional? What if for the online course you have an excellent instructor, whereas the traditional course is taught in a mediocre way? What if you have an excellent tutor carrying out face-to-face lectures?
In a way this report brings out the true value of pedagogy… what the teacher/tutor/educator manages to elicit from the students is rather in my opinion irreplaceable but on the other hand, the same teacher has to face the future and adapt accordingly. A nice quote caught my eye, by J. Catone (2009): “Anyone can absorb information from a book or video, but good teachers will always be necessary to draw out that knowledge and help students develop the skills needed to think critically about the information they consume. In other words, online learning tools are just like any other tools in a teacher’s bag of tricks: what matters is how they’re applied.”
In answer to some other posts which we have actually seen I do think that this puts us all, as Educators, in agreement. We are indeed part of the answer to the education of the future… it all depends on the direction we take with our students.

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16 thoughts on “Comparing Pedagogies

  1. >In my opinion the eliciting that takes place in class cannot be replaced on the internet. I also think that listening to the questions of one's peers is another important factor that helps students learn. The social contact that takes place in class is also important. Since I teach English, speaking and listening to the language are very important during my lessons. I think that e-learning is a good way of keeping in contact with the students and I also think that it supports the learning that goes on in class.

  2. >I think that choosing one method over the other depends first and foremost on the learner's learning methods. This brings in mind immediately the concept of the Digital Divide. If a learner does not like to rely on computers to learn a subject, why enforce it on him/her? However, why should this learner not be able to integrate with the current environment and adapt according to the changing world? Darwin's concept of survival of the fittest comes in mind here. If a learner process information externally, one might find it hard to sit in front of a screen and absorb information internally. On the other hand, if a student prefers to learn alone, and in a class situation feel like the one left out, it is the same situation. What to choose? I believe that younger students should know both worlds…and only as they grow and get to know themselves better would they be able to choose which method works best for them. As a student myself, I am able to take the best out of the two worlds – though I prefer e-learning most of the time, because I tend to focus more and learn according to my own pace and timetable.On the other hand: if the teacher manages to use appropriate modes of packing his/her messages, I don't think that the method used will effect the communication from happening between the teacher and the student. In the end, teaching is a two-way communication – and both parties' abilities of coding and decoding messages come into play.

  3. >Although the perception is normally that the teacher is in charge of the learning process, I believe that the role of the teacher is to guide and direct the learning process of the student but the actual ownership of the task belongs to the student. With this in mind, I believe that students should be formed from an early age with this approach and rather than expect a teacher-directed experience, they would actively engage in the course content and task opportunities it provides. On-line learning applies itself well to this pedagogical principle since on-line courses could provide activities in which a student is driven by tasks and problems to engage with the content. This is especially applicable to VET practitioners since we normally use a competency-based approach that does not define itself on what students know but on what capabilities students have. I do agree with other comments, that this approach might not be suitable to all types of students and their abilities and attitudes must be taken into account. On the other hand a pedagogical approach using on-line learning has the opportunity to exploit the student-centred approach whereby courses are easily adapted to the needs of the student.

  4. >First of all, what works for me as a learning method may not work for others and vice-versa. Similarly, what works for me as a teaching method may not work for others and vice-versa. This adds to the uncertainty of the results of whether online courses fare better than traditional ones mentioned in the report.Secondly, I believe that it is simply not true that a teacher will not be able to draw out the knowledge that needs to be learnt using e-Learning. For example, if a teacher uses podcasts or screencasts to aid in his or her lecture delivery, he or she will still elicit and emphasize on the important knowledge for the student. I think that the teacher's input as to what is important to learn and what is maybe less important is still very visible when e-Learning is employed.

  5. >As regards the achievements attained in e-learning online assessments, it all depends on the setup of the institution carrying them out.CISCO Authorized centres, for example, have a monitored environment where the student is filmed while carrying out the FINAL assessment. This of course avoids the temptation of having students check for answers and copying them during the actual assessment, as happens during self-tests. The latter is frequently the case since students, as anyone, want to be looked at as being 'high achievers' rather than taking the tests to assess the knowledge they have achieved.J. Catone's quotation is very valid indeed! Ultimately, the physical teacher can act as a motivator to extract information from the student and create a 'live' learning environment. Of course one could argue that this can be done through video-conferencing too…However I think that this is still very different from a face-to-face environment.The problem, in my opinion, is when people think that e-learning is simply a supply of information which is online, without the necessary support system to direct students and interact with them! Therefore the role of the teacher remains very valid in directing the students into making good use of such material.

  6. >I must say that I still do not have a clear opinion on the matter. Having spent most of my life following traditional learning methodologies, I can certainly say that it did work for me in a positive way. Previous posts referred to the importance of eye-to-eye contact and social interaction in the learning environment, and I find myself in full agreement with this point. This is especially so in compulsory education where students are still trying to find out the subject areas that are of major interest to them. I think that the physical presence of a learner is essential in this process.When one refers to courses of a higher level, then one might also consider following other pedagogic techniques, and eLearning is certainly one of them. It has already been mentioned that eLearning is very student-centric, and the student plays a crucial part in the learning process. For eLearning to be successful, it must be complemented with highly motivated students that are willing to make the most of the material delivered to them by lecturers.——————Christian CallejaIICT Lecturer

  7. >In my opinion, e-learning provides better results for 2 reasons:1) most of the time students who utilize e-learning utilities enroll themselves because they are really interested in learning. 2) People are not distracted by peers while learning.

  8. >Although elearning has advantages over traditional learning I feel that it gives the best experience in learning for the student. I believe that elearning should only be used to enhance the learning experience in class. by making the lectures more interesting to the students and thus showing a different face of that subject.

  9. >I agree with Eleonor because I believe that this depends on the students and his/her way of learning. Today I just had a lecture where the discussion that evolved would have not been so interactive if it was online. I'm sure that certain students will find it very difficult to sit infront of a screen and learn. Unfortunately our students need to be pushed to write down lecture notes, let alone if they had to make their own notes. However I believe that we should inform students with both ways and maybe follow short modules online. Coming from the industry, I know that this is something that they might face in the near future at the place of work. Nowadays companies need to invest in their employees and at least once a year they might be asked to follow an online course.

  10. >I think that we cannot really compare online and traditional courses together since there are many factors that could affect both of them and thus any conclusions drawn will not be significant. One such factor is student motivation. Previous posts have suggested that students following online courses are probably more motivated. I tend to agree with this especially if the courses are at higher education levels such as when following an online Masters course. However on the other hand there are many students that follow traditional courses that are also motivated maybe for other reasons. Another factor is definitely the teacher. I do believe that a good dedicated teacher will deliver a good course irrespective of whether it’s an online or a traditional course. However at the same time I also think that in my area, which is Science, it is very difficult to fully follow online courses due to the practical investigations needed. Thus I think that a blend of the two pedagogies is best where e-learning tools should be used, along with traditional methods, to make the whole experience more interactive and more interesting when need be. On the other hand practical sessions need to taught mainly in the traditional way especially when the teacher needs to physically demonstrate how a particular technique is carried out and to show how a particular instrument works. As J. Catone (2009) said I think that teachers will always be essential. I believe that it is the teacher that makes the whole learning experience positive or negative also through the interaction with his/her students. This might be achieved online if the teacher is dedicated and his/her presence is always felt throughout the course. However I feel that in my case to truly understand whether a student fully understands a scientific concept or to see whether he/she is able to use a particular instrument, especially to achieve a competence, the teacher must be physically present and must interact with the student. Mildred

  11. >I agree with what Nadia Sci said about the fact that our students one day or another need to know how to follow on-line courses. I can confirm this because during my previous employment I used to have one to two on-line courses every year. This is a new trend which we need to adopt and get used to.We should prepare our students to think by themselves, be creative and original which sometimes I feel that this lacks in our students at MCAST, solve problems and interact with one another. In fact in e-learning, the amount of interaction among the students should increase. We should stop spoon feeding our students. I think that sometimes we are spoiling them and do not really leave them to think and be creative. In an active learning process many students can contribute their share to the discussion and express their opinions, compared to the traditional learning in which only a single student can express him/herself at a given point in time. Moreover, many discussions can be held simultaneously and students can be concurrently involved in several subjects and express their opinions.

  12. >I tend to favour the traditional manner of teaching and learning as I feel that the computer and the internet are taking over the personal contact which is so beneficial to us humans. I think that nothing can replace the physical classroom interaction, discussion and teamwork which take place in a traditional class. I would like to emphasise the term “teamwork” – a factor which is most valued in employees and which can be vital to the success of a business.However this is not to negate that e-learning has its own merits. I have taken several correspondence courses and while some have been extremely impersonal others have been very interactive. One in particular comes to mind where I have been assigned a tutor I can refer to in case of difficulties. Although I do not personally know this person she has become my mentor as she encourages me along and has been very understanding when I needed to take some time off the course due to other pressing matters. Although I believe that the traditional classroom setting has a lot to contribute to a learner, I feel that e-learning is an excellent option for learners who are juggling a career and family life. It certainly makes their life somewhat easier.

  13. >In my opinion distance learning is another education field that still focuses on pedagogy system that is aimed to deliver education to students who are not physically in a traditional classroom or campus. This process is an educational experience of equal quality for the learner to best suit their needs outside the classroom. With this technological trend distance learning is becoming more popular around the world for its potential individualized attention and communication with students internationally. Distance learning is the process of transferring knowledge to learners who are separated from the teacher by time and/or physical distance and are making use of technology components, such as the Internet, video, CD's, tapes, and other forms of technology to accomplish learning.

  14. >Race (1994) points out that the ways in which people learn in schools, colleges and training centres are very similar to the ways they learn outside them. He goes on to elaborate that people don’t learn much by sitting in front of a teacher, but that people learn ‘’by doing, by getting things right, by getting things wrong, and by getting some kind of feedback, internal or external.’’ He says that it is helpful to learn by getting things wrong in the comfort of privacy, ‘’one of the most powerful strengths of open learning.’’ Race is telling us that there are certain aspects beyond the usual learning processes that we may overlook. He emphasizes the importance of feedback as an essential learning process and that learners should seek feedback all the time. Although distance learning may have its benefits, we may conclude that both methods of teaching can be successful if correct teaching/learning processes are used.

  15. >I am new to this e – learning as a pedagogy. I was lately looking for a long distance MSc course in UK, however it resulted to be impossible to carry out the course I want through distance or e-learning since as stated by the various universities, the course requires hands-on laboratory work and field work. I was deluded since I was thinking that in 2010, all aspects of study could be carried out using web based teaching maybe blended with limited physical student presence for certain activities. This makes me think that maybe this form of teaching still requires the introduction of further improved soft skills, such as communication skills, team skills, handling of cultural and work style issues as well as knowing about tools and methods, both by the instructor and the prospective learner.

  16. >I agree with Suzanne, ‘teamwork’ is a vital asset for employees to have, and I feel that this is best achieved face to face. For students to develop ‘emotional intelligence’ and ‘soft skills’ they need to learn how to understand people. This will mainly happen through human contact. Words, images, or moving images on a computer screen are detached from the student. I feel e learning creates an impersonal atmosphere, anyone can be anyone, there is no character or individuality.

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