A Pedagogy/Andragogy-Neutral Learning Platform for Improving Effectiveness of Online Learning

Menon, Satish
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Conversations about education are still dominated by discussions and discourses on what is wrong with the educational system today and how to fix it. Given the wealth of experience and research in this field, it is natural for experts to hold differing opinions on what is wrong and how to fix it. However, something the experts will agree on is the belief that individualized instruction (if it can be achieved at scale) is better than a more traditional, one-size-fits-all approach (Sprenger 2003). There is little argument that instruction or guidance, when tailored to a learner’s capabilities and preferences, will be more effective (compared to the alternative) in helping a learner accomplish his/her desired goals (Sawyer 2005). In addition to helping learners reach their immediate desired goals, education should also include the development of certain core life skills, such as helping a learner developing critical thinking skills (Weimer 2002). // While significant theories and strategies exist that provide guidance on how to accomplish individualized instruction, it has been difficult to determine how to offer this instruction using technology. To date, very few systems have been able to operationalize the collective knowledge in this domain. Even fewer systems have provided any quantifiable evidence on their effectiveness, especially in a commercial setting, against a wide variety of curriculum and a large sets of learners with varied cognitive, ethnographic, and other relevant profiles. Despite much conversation about individualized instruction, a big chasm exists between research-generated insights and knowledge and the educational products offered in the market, such as learning management systems that provide learning delivery. // Our goal is the construction of a personalized, or individualized, learning platform – one that offers a great experience – an experience that is highly relevant and contextual (in relation to learners’ needs and goals). We are working to create a system that provides great feedback to the learner and the teacher – a system that has the capability to support the use of the ‘right’ instructional strategies deemed to be optimal to accomplish the task at hand (Smith 1999). We want the system to be intelligent in turning data into actionable insights, so learners can know where they stand and what they need to do. This also enables teachers to be able to learn what works or doesn’t work, and use this information as guidance.

Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Teaching and Learning Methods