Academic journal article College Student Journal

A Distance Learning Model for Teaching Higher Order Thinking

Academic journal article College Student Journal

A Distance Learning Model for Teaching Higher Order Thinking

Article excerpt

A teaching model for distance learning (DL) requires a system (a technology) and process (a way of linking resources) that makes distance learning no different than learning in the traditional classroom.

The process must support a design that provides for learning, ensures maximum transfer, and is student-centered. The process must provide a methodology for harnessing the DL technology taking into account learner motivation, learner styles, and learner assessment. This article describes a teaching model for distance learning and provides design factors and interaction possibilities to implement the model.

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How do we learn best? Any teacher will tell you that direct experience is the best teacher. Often, classroom teachers will conduct experiments and demonstrations or have the students watch or participate in variety of experiential activities. A good teacher is a facilitator and allows students to share ideas and explore. Today the teacher has another tool in the classroom that allows students to do the same things as in the past. This new tool is hypermedia.

A prime example of powerful hypermedia is the worldwide web, which provides more material than presently exists at most schools' media centers.

The material it offers can be accessed in many forms-graphics, video, texts, and sound-and in some cases is interactive. Material can be accessed from many starting points and along many paths.

Despite the emergence of powerful technologies, the process of developing ways to use these technologies to provide meaningful learning activities for students is taking a backseat to the learning of the hardware and software programs. Previous attempts have included the development of resource centers and classrooms without walls. But, these new learning environments are, for the most part, not fully developed to create new roles for students and teachers.

We also know that students learn best when they are highly motivated. Heightened motivation creates an emotional component that increases retention and increases the amount of time the student is engaged with the learning material. Simulations, games, and exploration are used in the classroom today, but they are usually paper-based or board games. With the computer in the classroom, more sophistication is available. Our students have become accustomed to sophisticated materials and to sustaining lengthy periods of engagement in them.

How do educators learn the motivational and embedding techniques that these games use to provide information for the game player to reach the next level of play? What is the process? Game players learn how to play the games from peers and/or mentors who provide constant feedback. One learns very quickly the consequences of a mistake when the dragon eats the player and the game is over. Children and adults playing sophisticated games will persist past the usual concept of tolerable frustration to achieve a goal in a game. How can the educator provide these motivators in DL?

Bloom's Taxonomy: A Need to Climb the Ladder

In 1956 Benjamin Bloom developed the taxonomy for the cognitive domain of learning-a linear progression through knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, and synthesis to evaluation. The classroom teacher focuses on addressing the cognitive levels of knowledge and comprehension as building a foundation for critical thinking, and there are some teachers who work at the application level. The higher-levels of the domain (analysis, synthesis and evaluation) are now coming to the forefront as we teach how to think, not what to think. This move toward critical/conceptual thinking is to be applauded. However, DL is currently no further along than the classroom in supporting high-level cognitive skills development. Much of DL appears to be geared to focus on knowledge and comprehension, which works well with procedural and technical training. …

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