Research on the effectiveness of interactive
learning can be applied effectively. Using the
Internet causes the responsibility for learning to shift
from the teacher to the student, and has other effects,
although there are certain inhibitors
to learning on the web. This interactive
article allows discussion among readers about the
future of learning or any other topic in the article.
A few years ago Congress allocated over a million dollars for research into the effectiveness of interactive media. The Institute of Defense Analysis produced a lengthy metastudy that analyzed over 600 research studies on the effectiveness of interactive media. The study concluded that: Students using interactive media learn the same amount of material in half the time or less with equal or better understanding and equal or longer retention than when using traditional means of instruction.
example of a student exchange on the Interactive Web Site:
Assets vs. Owners Equity
Laurie - 02:38pm Sep 18, 1999 (#1 of 5)
Amy - 07:28pm Sep 18, 1999 (#2 of 5)
Tom - 3:16pm Sep 19, 1999 (#3 of 5)
Applying Research to Practice
For the past six years at the Graduate School of Business ofthe University of St. Thomas, we have been developing an interactive financial accounting course with the support of a number of corporations in Minneapolis. In addition, New College, the University's outreach to adult learners, has developed a weekend college format in which adults capable of independent learning spend only half the number of classroom contact hours as traditional students during the regular program. For weekend students, class participation is supplemented by independent study.
In the Fall of 1996, an introductory financial accounting course was taught in the weekend college format every other Friday night from 5:00 to 9:30. Students used a CD-ROM and an interactive Web site in addition to a textbook. A regular section of the same course was taught by the same professor during the day using the same textbook and class outline. Both classes took the same quizzes and tests. The students in the traditional class knew nothing about the interactive Web site or the CD-ROM, although they spent twice as many class contact hours with the instructor.
This was by no means a scientific study. No variables were controlled, and there were obviously demographic variables (what kind of student would choose to take a class on a Friday night?) and other intervening variables. However, the results of this practical experiment were very consistent with results of the scientifically controlled studies.
The students in the weekend format section using the Web site and CD-ROM did substantially better on all tests and quizzes than the traditional section. There was also a nearly perfect correlation between frequency of contributing to the Web site and their final grade based on the tests and quizzes. The more the student contributed to the Web discussion (which was available twenty-four hours a day seven days a week), the higher the student's grade.
Responsibility for Learning
We observed that the responsibility for learning shifted from the teacher to the learner for the students in the weekend format. Students came to the orientation session and first class or two with the traditional attitude, "OK, I'm here; teach me." By the third class (about midterm), they came to class with questions. "How does ... work?" "In the company I work for, thus and such happened ... how does that fit in with this new concept we're learning?" "I don't understand ..." The rapid fire lectures grew into discussions with specific learning objectives set in the syllabus and specific objectives each student wanted to achieve. By the end of the course, the lecture format was almost entirely abandoned, although discussions were sometimes interrupted by short didactic explanations of specific complex concepts.
Ever since John Dewey espoused progressive education, many teachers have attempted to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. However, the combination of less class time and the structure of the Internet caused this to happen naturally. Students realized that if they were going to learn the subject, they had to do it themselves - a very empowering motivator. The freedom actually seemed to generate responsibility.
Internet access was a problem for some students who didn't want to come to the college. Student access has increased at stunning rate during the past two years.
On the other hand, the risk of embarrassment can be a motivator. Students reported that before they put a question up on the Internet, they were careful that their grammar and spelling were correct. Frequently they would check in the book or several books and often found the answer to their question. Or, in the process of framing their question, a better question occurred to them, which they posted on the Internet.
The greatest motivator for those who preferred not to participate or post questions or comments on the Internet seemed to be their grade. If a substantial percent of their grade depended on their participation in Internet discussions, the amount of participation (and their understanding of the material) increased substantially.
to this Article
Many other discoveries and observations were made as these learning technologies have proliferated throughout the university during the past few years. A published example of an Interactive Virtual Classroom can be found in Paradigm Interactive Accounting. An unpublished example of a course in Communication Technology taught in the Spring of 2000 can be visited.
This interactive article lets you discuss its concepts online. Simply click here to add your comments to the general Distance Learning Discussion regarding all aspects of distance learning. You can just browse or contribute to the discussion about distance learning with the author and other teachers who are using this and other distance learning technologies. To register as an active participant, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the register button so you can actively contribute your ideas and knowledge. Distance learning technologies are so new, and they are developing so quickly, that the only way we can learn effectively is to share what we know with one another. Please add your comments.
The Future of
|EMC/Paradigm Publishing has adopted and published
the materials used at the University of St. Thomas. Instructors can visit
the Paradigm Accounting Interactive Web site at http://www.emcp.com
Instructors can also obtain a free CD-ROM demonstration disc
for Paradigm Interactive Accounting by calling
Sound incredible? Most of the pieces of this model are already available.
When IBM assembled its PC, it obtained the CPU from Intel, the operating
system (DOS) from what is now Microsoft, the monitor from Perceptronics,
the disk drives from Syquest, the Keyboard from Keytronics, and parts from
many other manufacturers. Henry Ford, like many individuals and companies
that "invent" revolutionary complex products, used a similar approach.
The CD-ROM and interactive Web site are just two components of the future
system. They may well be just a step along the way toward more effective
learning based instruction that will replace teaching based instruction.