Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Psychology of Learning Environments

Nowadays there are many devices that can deviate students’ “attended input” from the teacher to any of the features on their computers such as instant message, e-mail, videos, etc. The answer to this situation can be found on this phrase that caught my attention from chapter 6, “If anything, these students may find themselves distracted by the instructor”. Why can’t the instructor become the primary target of their attention then? To do this teachers have to design classes in which they really have to use technology for meaningful purposes related to the subject matter; something in which students really find a practical use. Otherwise they will keep on putting the instructor as the “unattended input”. I have experienced this for example, when I have had the chance to take my little students to the computers classroom. I must make sure that they understand what they have to do before hand; because once they start working with the computers it is almost impossible to have the whole group’s attention back to give further explanations or instructions.

Consequently, those technological devices do not match with the traditional classroom where the teachers transmit knowledge and the students receive it.
Today students can have access to any kind of information in a better format that the one employed by the teacher in the classroom. Therefore, the classroom should become a place where interaction is promoted at all times, where cooperative work is a common strategy, where students contribute to the construction of knowledge through critical thinking; all of this achieved through the use of technology for meaningful purposes with practical outcomes.

Additionally, when courses are completely virtual, the instructor ought to consider that the main feature of an e-learning course should be “interactivity”. This means that it should contain varied activities such as sound, images, video, games and exchange of ideas with e-learning classmates. For example, they should consider the possibility of including a virtual world where students can negotiate meanings through a variety of possibilities. In other words, it has to be one that fulfils the main characteristics of usability: Coherence, Complexity, Legibility and Mystery. These might guarantee that students feel at ease and demonstrate willingness to learn and make a better use of the virtual environment.

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