Learning by doing online learning

When it comes to learning creating effective online learning, learning by doing by doing still beats the books. Online tools can to some degree make up for interaction and pedagogical techniques lost when compared with face-to-face teaching. Let’s have a look at some tools that emerged as particularly fitting for an effective online learning experience that deploys an approach that I deem as most effective in higher business education: Challenge-based learning.

Classroom interaction is an essential element in challenge-based learning, where solutions to smaller and larger problems are generated by the learned rather than served by the instructor. Common approaches to online content delivery entailing interaction (e.g. zoom, teams, online videos or other content in combination with discussion forums) often fail due to lack of content provision by learners. This is mostly due to a higher hurdle to express one’s views online as well as a lack of engagement during content provision.

If it is about collecting learner’s oppinions on a range of questions during live class, two tools appear to be particularly useful. Presemo, a tool provided by Aalto University, allows for live polling during class, which can be performed from any device with an online connection. Polls can take the form of multiple choice questions or open ended questions. The tool is particularly useful for simple problems and helps breaking up a live online lecture into more digestible chunks. Visualization of answers is live and multiple choice answers presented visually appealing and effective. Answers to open ended questions lack effective visualization features and appear more like a word dumb, which makes this tool less desirable for most purposes. Mentimeter is an attractive alternative that enlarges Presemo’s toolbox by more effective visualization and data collection features such as word clouds or Likert scale visualizations. It works particularly well when collecting open questions with limited answer possibilities or when polling for opinions presented no a gradient.

Not every course, however, can and should be hosted live. For such applications opinions and learner content can be shared in more detail with commenting features enabled inside the tool. Piktochart allows for the creation of posters, where simple content can be portrayed in a visually attractive manor. This also allows for Gallery walk approaches to content presentation, if combined with group presentations in zoom breakout rooms for example. Padlet on the other hand collects unstructured content that can provide a broad overview of opinions and a basis for condensing knowledge into a presentable format. As a final output, however, I deem it unfitting due to its unstructured nature. A way to then present content online in a structured form is taking it to Prezi, which provides a smart way to interactively structure content for dissemination.

Without having had to try those different tools, I would not have been able to add them to my own toolbox as (more and more I suspect an online-) educator.