This Blog is presented at “Digitalisation of Management Education in South Asia" Online FDP by AMDISA (Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia).
To start off, let us unpack what we mean by diverse learning resources. Traditionally, everything that we knew about learning resources came from books, from notes provided by teachers/professors in classrooms and recently, those found on the internet. Though these are all extensive forms of resources, as we are moving forward, the types of learning resources need to change with the introduction of digitization.
The benefit of using diverse learning resources, is that it improves the engagement of the learner and at the same time, creates a delicate balance between different types of mediums and information as found in these resources. There are major three purposes that are fulfilled with learning resources in a classroom setting, namely
- learning purposes
- practice purposes,
- and for assessment/evaluation purposes.
For learning purposes, it’s very important to frame learning outcomes and make them fit into a particular time frame. This means creating clear and precise goals for the students, which effectively describe what the teachers want to achieve with their classroom, bound by class time.
As we move into technology, it is made very clear that the use of infographics, animations, moving images can really help in retaining the attention of a reader. Instead of giving students a normal PDF document, even if it contains pictures, it might not be impactful in engaging them. Instead, if we to introduce something on hypermedia, such as graphics, moving images and animations, there are three benefits that we can get out of this. Firstly, of course they will help you in explaining a given concept. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, therefore making them more effective in explaining concepts. Secondly, we can use moving images if there are flows or cycles that we want students to understand, making the experience a lot more interactive than before. Lastly, if we want to tell a story and want students to restore information through a storyboard, then an animation would be the best way to do it.
While pictures and the use of media is very important, none of this suggests that we do away with words and paragraphs. Rather, this implies creating an embedded process containing both in harmony to create an experience for the learner.
Practice Purposes: So far, we have discussed a descriptive way of learning but what about the learning through gamification? For that, we have a tool called simulation which has been in use for quite a long time and by now should become a part of our norm. But how do we introduce this in a classroom? For example, in one class you explain a concept, have a very participant-centered discussion and soon there comes a point where you would want the student to go one step forward. This 'step forward' involves allowing students to accept new challenges and solving them. Here the end goal isn’t to get a grade, but to practice knowledge in a real-life situation.
Generally, simulations are developed to find out the answer in the most parsimonious way, with parsimonious meaning tracking who was able to finish it quickly and in how many iterations. Interactive simulations along with descriptive texts can be successful because students would know that the knowledge that their building is given a chance to be practiced in a gamified environment, therefore further inculcating confidence in the students and a level of interest.
When it comes to assessment purpose resources, they can either be MCQ-based or essay-based questions. These are the two tools that we have been using for quite a long time but it would be very interesting to see these get digitized as well. Because of the digitization we can also divide the assessments in a very logical way. For example, you can redefine the questions as per difficulty levels (i.e. low, medium and high) or can plan you quizzes accordingly as well. This means starting off with a basic level quiz and slowly increasing the difficulty level to medium and finally an advanced assessment.
At the same time, it is very important for us to realize that the students need to write down their knowledge through essay questions as well. Essay questions can be very boring if they aren’t contextualized so it might be better to create mini-case studies for our students and allowing them to put themselves in the shoes of another person and try to solve their problem with the knowledge created for them.
The journey of learning while using different tools starts off with descriptive knowledge, which creates information for a student, then move on to a practice stage where we take the path of simulation, a gamified way of learning for students to check and apply their knowledge while trying different strategies. And once that is completed, you open another tool for assessment purposes. This assessment is not just a way for them to reproduce what they’ve learned rather using the content in solving the problem.
To recap, the resources that we have tried to use include knowledge development, practicing and evaluation, but the most essential thing one must remember is that this is an experience that we would like to create for our students and if not perfected, can hinder learning in taking place.
At EDTechWorx, we have been doing quite a good experiment with a combination of different learning resources and the results seem promising. Particularly, in whatever we design, we are conscious of including all these resources for creating an optimal learning environment. At the descriptive and knowledge development level we use hypermedia like graphics, animations and moving images and we make sure that our topics have simulations in them for practice before their assessments which including MCQs and essay-type questions based on case studies. Some examples of courses developed with diverse learning resources.
It is ironic to see that when we moved online, teachers simply tried to mimic their offline way of teaching, digitally. But which is never successful because we cannot expect students to learn in the same way online as they used to offline. Therefore, it is critical to use different types of resources embedded with each other and with a clear objective in mind to create an environment that truly nurtures a student’s mind.
About the Author
Dr. Farrah Arif
With a PhD from University of Cambridge and a distinguished career as educationist, corporate trainer, strategic thinker and marketing consultant, Dr. Farrah Arif, Founder & CEO EDTechWorx and LUMS Executive in Residence, has helped many organizations optimize their business strategy to drive sustainable revenue growth and profits. Her areas of specialty are Business Digital Transformation Strategy, Marketing in the Digital Age, Consumer Data Analytics and Simulation, and Design Thinking.