Designing exercises is essential for achieving the desired specific outcomes. Clicking on screens, browsing through slides or watching a video is not, as such, teaching you much. It can, however, prompt you to undertake more effective didactic activities, such as reflecting, discussing, searching for additional information, analysing, evaluating or developing your own implementation plan.
How we learn - pedagogy
Much has been said about preferred styles of learning; there are also attempts to tailor content and exercises to personal preferences of individual learners and to automate the learning path. In this context the educational process is individual and it is possible to design it precisely.
On the other hand the concept of social learning stresses the role others play in the process. It seems that we can extract from this academic debate a couple of points, which are useful from our, that is, the practitioner’s, perspective:
- everyone learns differently, depending on the context or specific subject, and it is difficult to ultimately define one unchangeable and always preferred style of learning for a certain person - therefore the more diverse the transmission, the greater the chance that it will be memorized;
- we learn best through actions, so design such activities that will require activity from the learners, which means actions that involve people and media in order to reach specific outcomes;
- appreciate existing knowledge and skills of the learners and refer to them when you design, for example, group work - this way you will use various experiences and give a chance to those with different skills.
The exercises and activities that you suggest will support (to a greater extent) particular, yet often diverse ways of learning. They should be consistent with the predefined general and specific outcomes, and it’s worth noting that this is often the trap we fall into, especially when designing e-learning activities: we promise to teach how to write poems, yet we only offer a set of poetry to read. Teaching practical skills requires using very precise instructions because learner has to follow the process in order to repeat the operation. It also often involves using both visual clues and text or audio prompts.