In a perfect world, there would be time enough for an instructor to check in with each of them, and learners wouldn't be reticent about giving feedback. Some learners seem disinterested, some smile and nod politely when they really don't understand, and some don't realize they haven't got it until long after they've left the classroom. In the case of online learning, it's even more difficult to determine who is learning what. The last thing anyone wants is to wait until a final evaluation or the end of a course to figure out that what was covered hasn't "stuck".
Here are some ways the right learning environment can help to determine just how much learning is actually happening:
- Choose a teaching tool that breaks large tasks into a series of small steps, and conclude each one with a micro-assessment. This could be a small pop-quiz, a brief journal entry, or online discussion. These serve as virtual check-points.
- Make it as easy as possible for instructors to monitor where learners are in an assignment or module, while they progress through it. This can be accomplished with real-time analytics in a learning platform.
- If you can't be available to students one-on-one, provide just-in-time help, either through an online chat, or with pop-up video and audio hints that present automatically as learners move through material.
- Choose a learning platform that will accommodate a variety of assessment and evaluation tools. If possible, have learners to choose the format of their evaluation.
- Allow students to demonstrate learning through a variety of media. This could mean written reports, but could also be done with recorded audio or video clips, or related weblinks.
In essence, education technology can improve uptake of learning by making it not only easy, but necessary for learners to demonstrate what they've learned, as they learn it, an instructor can avoid disappointing results at the end of the course.