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Online learning and teaching methodologies

Behaviourist approaches to learning

Behaviourism equates learning with observation. You are creating a learning environment which exacts changes in behaviour, where students often learn skills one at a time, after having previously been shown or delivered the learning. 

Generally, behaviourist learning is constructed with a model which introduces the content, gets students to practise or apply that learning, and then reflect on that learning. 

Most of our learning content reflects the following ICARE model.

ICARE model

K. Anagnostopoulos 2002. "Designing to learn and learning to design: an overview of instructional design models" 

Constructivist approaches to learning

 Constructivism is the process whereby learners construct their own knowledge and understanding, based on their personal interpretation. In this model you would not usually present the student with delivered learning content; instead you would provide opportunities for the student to create their own conclusions, solve problems themselves, and identify knowledge, skills and learning points from those conclusions and solutions. 

Generally, constructivist learning follows the experiential model of learning.

Experiential Learning model

CREES, 1992. Curriculum Development for Issues Programming: A National Handbook for Extension Youth Development Professionals, Washington, D.C.

Applying these methodologies to online learning

Whilst our online model generally tends to follow the ICARE model, we recommend that you include both behaviourist and constructivist approaches in your online learning - and of course this will also depend on the module needs. 

When following the ICARE model: 
Within this section, we introduce the topic of the week, and also give students an indication of the time it will take them to undertake each activity.
Connect/Content – Apply – Reflect
This section is where you deliver the content, using audio-visual interactive presentations and online activities, both individual and collaborative. This content should add up to about 10 hours of activity.
This section is where we provide the student with optional learning if they want to extend their knowledge of a subject. This content should add up to about 4 hours of activity.

This is then translated into the following design depending on the type of learning employed: 

Flipped Content

The premise of this model is that the theory and concepts of the topic are presented to the student using pre-prepared material with the tutor absent, and the tutor is then 'present' during the activities which demonstrate application of the knowledge and understanding (primary giving feedback and moderating peer-led discussions).

This model is heavy in advance preparation, but allows the tutor to concentrate on activities and feedback during the delivery of the content. Remember to design activities to be time efficient whilst allowing for a variety of feedback. 

Problem-based learning

Problem-based learning topics present students with a problem which allow the students to discover the theories, concepts and applications by themselves rather than being delivered. This methodology often uses groupwork – so please allow for the timezones and other commitments of your students.

For problem-based learning, you would design:

• The problem and how to present it
• A collaboration area for students
• A resource area for students to utilise to explore relevant concepts
• A way for students to present their solution and share with other students.

Work-based learning

This model supports work-based learning, where the academic creates the framework that a student must fill out during their study period. Often this model is characterised by the production of a reflective portfolio demonstrating the application of concepts and theories in real-life situations.

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