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Online Education Theory - Essay Example

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Online Education Theory

Bullen and Janes (2007) reckon that institutions of higher education around the world are now appreciating the importance of e-learning as a strategy of managing the ever-growing and ever-changing student populations. Life-long learning has become a necessity, while at the same time time-constraints and job commitments and the sheer numbers of students pursuing education make it more sensible to pursue other forms of delivering education besides the traditional institution-based form. As a result, distance learning was born and developed and now online education is developing at ever increasing rates. Beard et al. (2007) however argues that there is a risk of e-learning focusing on the technological aspect rather than the educational aspect; that is, more emphasis on the “e” than on the “learning”. A deep theoretical foundation is thus required to sustain e-learning. From the learning theories developed for traditional face-to-face education, theories for online teaching and learning can be extrapolated and studied. This paper addresses a theoretical framework for online education based on existing ones, based on the statement that a constructivist-minimalist theory is the most effective in guiding online teaching and learning. This theory is developed from my own experience as an online learning student and hence I will focus on how the theory guides my approach to e-learning and how it affects my learning practices. The Constructivism-Minimalism Theory I developed this theory from two existing theories; the constructivism and the minimalism theories. To begin with, the constructivism theory is one in which cognition is focused upon. The learner undertakes an active learning process in which new ideas are constructed from their knowledge (Kearsely, 1994). It is meant to influence the student to explore beyond the information given to them by the instructor through cognitive structures which provide meaning and organization. Bruner (1966) states that the instructor should aim to influence the students to construct their own hypotheses, and make decisions and discover principles on their own. A spiral model is utilized to make students build knowledge upon existing knowledge in them. The instructor designs the most effective sequence for presentation of material and structures it to facilitate the learners’ comprehension. A consequence of the constructivism theory is that it enables me to associate it with another theory so as to come up with my own perspective. Carroll’s Minimalist theory is specifically designed for computer users and hence quite applicable to online education. In a close relation to Bruner’s constructivism theory, the minimalist theory also focuses on exploiting the learner’s previous knowledge and experience besides advocating for an active learning process. The backbone to the minimalist theory is the idea that instructors should minimize the obstruction of learning resulting from instructional materials and instead focus efforts on activities that are learner-directed. Passive forms of learning are minimized, with the learners being prompted to fill in the gaps, besides error recognition and recovery activities (Carroll, 1998; Kearsely, 1994; Patsula, 1999). The Constructivist-minimalist theory that I have developed ...Show more

Summary

Online education is a convergence of the internet and learning activities as the world further integrates into the digital era. Bullen and Janes (2007) reckon that institutions of higher education around the world are now appreciating the importance of e-learning as a strategy of managing the ever-growing and ever-changing student populations. …
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