When standing at the front of a classroom, a good instructor does a great job of student-directed learning. He or she can allow the students to direct the conversation, while still keeping them on track and ultimately reaching the course objectives. In fact, IMHO, self-directed learning can be more effective then instructor-guided, even when the instructor facilitates engaging dialogue among the students.
Adult learners like control. For many subjects, especially soft skills, they have wealth of experience. Tapping into that in the classroom and letting the inexperienced learn from the experienced can have a profound effect.
The tables turn in eLearning. While I still think it is more effective, I find I am drawn (right or wrong) to create a linear approach, where I want students to follow a specific path so the information I feed them builds from one click to the next. Sometimes this approach is necessary, but I would argue we use it more often than required.
In my last project, I colored outside of my lines. This online module was a follow-up to an ILT, where the students learned six principles of integrity-based communication. My objective of this course was to reinforce the points, provide practice, and let them evaluate what this knowledge meant in their own lives.
While the principles were random – they wouldn’t all be used in every situation and didn’t necessarily need to follow a prescribed order – I once again found myself in a linear approach, by the time I reached the fourth Principle, I realized this course of action did not give my learners control of their own learning.
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