The Learning Paradigm in Online Courses

Rob Kelly for Faculty Focus writes:  In their 1995 Change magazine article, “From Teaching to Learning—a New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education,” Robert B. Barr and John Tagg described the Learning Paradigm, which emphasizes learning over teaching and student discovery and construction of knowledge over transfer of knowledge from instructor to student.

They wrote: “A paradigm shift is taking hold in American higher education. In its briefest form, the paradigm that has governed our colleges is this: A college is an institution that exists to provide instruction. Subtly but profoundly we are shifting to a new paradigm: A college is an institution that exists to produce learning. This shift changes everything. It is both needed and wanted.”

The Learning Paradigm (as opposed to the Instruction Paradigm), emphasizes the students’ active role in learning and the purpose of that learning, which can be strong motivators for students. The challenge for instructors is to cede some control of learning to the students.

“A lot of instructors still go by the ‘If I don’t say it, they won’t learn it’ philosophy and try to push that into the online environment. It’s really hard for students to learn that way when they’re having gobs and gobs of information just pushed at them,” says Edward McGee, coordinator of instructional technology and distance learning at Central Virginia Community College.

In courses that embrace the Learning Paradigm, the instructor’s role is to guide students in the right direction rather than simply delivering the content. And with the wealth of resources available online, the instructor is no longer the only source of knowledge. “Rather than feeling responsible for delivering material, instructors need to be responsible for monitoring the students’ progress, giving feedback, and intervening when the students have problems,” McGee says.   SNIP, the article continues @ Faculty Focus, click here to continue reading…..

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