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Taking education online with a learner-centric approach

Taking education online with a learner-centric approach

 Online education has changed the way we perceived learning. It has become more student-centric. How? Read our post to learn more. 

There is no doubt that the concept of online learning has spread like wildfire. E-learning is popular among students and educators due to its ease of use, flexibility, and personalized approach.

We mean creating lessons and learner-centric teaching methods when we say personalized learning. In other words, it is planning lessons while keeping the needs of the learners in mind. Making education more student-centered has been a significant achievement in the educational landscape. The essence of this strategy is to concentrate on the learners' foundational knowledge before developing lesson plans for further learning sessions.

What is student-centered learning?

There was a time when education meant simply teaching what was written in the books. The teacher decided what to teach and how to teach. That process could be described as "teacher-centered learning." Lessons were rigid and did not take into account the learner's learning needs or base knowledge. Yet, things changed over time, and the introduced student-centered learning approach was introduced.

We must recognize that students learn better when they understand and relate to what they are learning. Clueless memorization of lessons can only provide theoretical knowledge with no comprehension. As a result, the learner-centered approach allows students to choose what they learn and how they learn it. Students make decisions and take charge of their learning in a specific environment.

This approach prioritizes students and modifies teaching-learning approaches. And with the advent of online teaching approaches, this method has become well-known. Moreover, with the student-centric learning approach, taking education online is now very simple.

What are the essential student-centered teaching methods?

The mantra of the learner-centered method of teaching is 'let the learner experiment to experience.' The teacher does not dictate but shadows learners as they try to learn via experimenting. Teachers should assist learners in searching for the answers to why, how, what, and where. It is more of an experimental or active learning method.

Here, we have listed some essential teaching methods that remain at the center of student-centered learning.

  • Project-Based Learning

Passive learning is no longer effective. As a result, project-based learning, or PBL, is gaining popularity among students and educators. It is a collaborative learning model that allows students to engage in practical learning activities to structure their learning and perception. In other words, learners are presented with challenges and must dig deep to find a solution (s). PBL provides learners with the necessary practical exposure to challenges they may face in their lives.

  • Active Learning

Gone are the days when teachers spoke, and students listened intently. Instead, teachers now actively assist and encourage students to actively participate in learning activities. It could take the form of students teaching an entire class or a small group. Active learning opens the door for discussion and debate, which improves knowledge and conversation skills.

  • Going Online

After the world was temporarily halted in 2020, what was once considered traditional, classroom education became virtual. Online learning has expanded the possibilities for student-centered learning. Educators can now divide students into small groups for online classes. Virtual debate, group learning, and project-based learning have become common. Furthermore, some courses allow students to learn at their own pace, thanks to the course flexibility. Besides that, learners can select their preferred subject based on their learning requirements.

  • Collaborate Learning

Both online and offline classes allow for collaborative learning. It is a method in which small groups of students are formed to solve problems and find answers related to their lessons. It is a collaborative effort to comprehend complicated subjects and paradigms. Learners actively participate in their lessons under this approach.

  • Internship

It is more like a practical exposure after gaining theoretical knowledge. It is not a teaching method per se but rather a student-centered learning approach in which students gain practical exposure in their field of study.

Online teaching methods are learner-centered: How?

It is needless to say how much impact the recent pandemic had on our education system. While most schools got shut down, learning was shifted online from offline mode. So now, the question that may pique our mind is how online teaching methods could be learner-centric?

Thanks to technological advancements, learners now have access to a vast field of knowledge. As a result, they no longer rely solely on the faculty's knowledge to learn. Nonetheless, we must not underestimate a teacher's importance in teaching-learning sessions. A machine will never be able to replace the human brain, emotions, and intuition. Nonetheless, the educator or teacher is no longer in charge of the learning session. Instead, more emphasis is being placed on what students want to learn and how they want it delivered. As a result, we see more virtual group activities, seminars, mock tests, and collaborative learning.

Colleges and universities are increasingly using the Course Management System (CMS) software. The CMS assists educators in designing and delivering student-centered courses within a flexible framework by using different tools. Some of the popular CMS used by colleges and institutions are:

  • Moodle
  • Blackboard
  • eCollege
  • WebCT
  • Angel, etc

Online student-centered learning promotes constructive learning. Here, students actively collaborate with their peers to gain and share knowledge. This is a student-centered approach where students "co-create" their experiential learning. This, in turn, helps them to empower themselves to become active learners.

Furthermore, online learning makes constructionism easier. It is a technique where students are encouraged to explain their learning to others. They can construct their version of their understanding using slide shows, HTML-based projects, and other virtual resources. As a result, student-to-teacher and pupil-to-pupil interaction and discussion improve.

How to implement student-centered learning via online education?

Due to the advent of online learning, educators now serve as knowledge mediators. They play an active role in guiding students toward answers. And as we approach online student-centered learning, it is time to focus on customized online teaching methods.

True, e-learning has the potential to be the face of a student-centered education system. Yet, it cannot be implemented unless student-centered teaching methods are used. Hence, in this section, we will discuss the implementation of student-centered learning in online education.

  • Let There be a Guiding Expert

As knowledge facilitators, educators should be available for direction and guidance. Prepare your teaching-learning lesson in a way that students can actively participate in the learning session. Students should be shadowed so that they can learn, but not as passive listeners.

  • Conduct Group Activities

Since online learning takes place remotely, remote group activities can be conducted. Divide your online lessons into smaller chunks and group them. The small group can talk about the subject matter, exchange ideas, find solutions, and give comments and suggestions on the coursework.

  • Conduct Discussion Forums

This is true, particularly with adult students enrolled in a degree or professional program. Discussions promote the free flow of information and communication. It also boosts learners' confidence and allows them to explore and apply their prior encounters in various contexts.

  • Projects

Project-based learning is an essential component of the student-centered learning approach. Online projects can be personalized to encourage students to explore their interests pertinent to their field of study.

  • Encourage Students' Active Participation

One of the best aspects of online learning is that students have numerous opportunities to participate in learning sessions actively. Educators can encourage students to express their opinions on studying the topics. Suggest that students use websites, web seminars, online videos, audios, and other resources to learn about various aspects of the course. It could be a way to encourage students to participate more in the course inherently.

  • Understand Students' Learning Needs

Finally, a learner-centered approach will never be successful unless educators understand students' various learning needs. It is not limited to online learning, but it is worth focusing on. Because online learning allows for greater flexibility, it is critical to provide students with various learning options. Allow them to learn at their own pace by providing them with access to videos, audiobooks, podcasts, and other resources.


The Takeaway

To wrap up, we can state that online education has given a new face to the entire education system. We got more scopes to customize lessons and make them more learner-centered. However, what is essential is to keep a note of the learners' needs while creating lesson plans. Using online tools, CMS, LMS, and other technologies can truly make education student-centric online.

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