Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Interactivity-Centric Blended Learning

We showed this graphic for the first time at DevLearn 2008 Conference & Expo at the Fairmont San Jose. The conference theme was, in keeping with its Silicon Valley venue, learning in a Web 2.0 world.

The topic of the talk was “Fostering Interactivity in the Classroom, Self-paced eLearning and Informal Learning.”

Although the graphic shows interactivity driving three learning modalities, there are important differences in the way interactivity drives these . To explore the differences, we only need to understand what is unique in each modality.

In classroom learning, learners are addressed as a group, all at once. Thus, group dynamics plays an important role. Everyone needs to keep pace with each other and the instructor. This means synchronization is critical.

In e-Learning, each learner is addressed separately, and learns at his or her own pace. Here, the key is engagement. It is easy for learner to get distracted, and e-learning designers endeavor to prevent this. Also, the instructor is absent from the scene at the time of learning, so the instructional designer carries a greater weight on his/her shoulders at the time of designing.

In informal learning, social interaction is pivotal. Peer learning thrives on people talking to each other. However, their interaction needs a learning context. If there is no context, there’s no learning.

The rest of the talk explored how these important differences manifest themselves in each modality. In classrooms, interactivity takes the form of facilitated group activities. In e-learning you will see non-trivial human-computer interactions, now popularly known as interactivities. Informal learning thrives on embedded social interactions, which make online interaction happen in a learning context.