What do you get when you combine an infamously popular learning theory and the infinite possibilities of the Internet? Experts agree that what you have is the key to creating the optimal online learning experience.

What is the Learning Pyramid?

Met with equal measures of recognition and skepticism, the Learning Pyramid is probably the most controversial learning theory among education experts.

The Learning Pyramid is an arrangement of instructional strategies according to the average retention rate. Edgar Dale created this method from the National Training Laboratories (NTL). Simply put, it rates teaching techniques based on how effective they are in making students remember what they learned.

The basic structure of the pyramid starts with the least effective to the most effective method. Ranked below are the following methods:

  1. Lecture
  2. Reading
  3. Audio-Visual
  4. Demonstration
  5. Discussion Group
  6. Practice by Doing
  7. Teaching Others.

You might be wondering what made it the topic of heated debates at this point, right? Various studies have confirmed that active learning help students get better grades as compared to passive learning.

In fact, a comprehensive study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that students learning through lecture alone are 1.5 time more likely to fail their course as compared to students taught using active learning techniques.

Despite its polarizing effect among educators, the Learning Pyramid remains an important learning theory, where gains towards better retention, and ultimately, better learning can be achieved.

What is Basic Online Learning?

Latest data from the Babson Survey Research Group’s Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States reveals, that, there are close to 6 million students currently taking at least one online learning course.

Online Learning is a form of learning where lessons are delivered online and accessed using a computer. This means you won’t be in the same physical space as your instructor or classmates during lessons.

You’ll still be able to take lessons while you are in your room, your favorite cafe, or in a beach halfway around the world. This quality (of not being confined in a traditional classroom) is the major appeal of online learning courses, especially to post-secondary learners or professionals who have busy schedules.

But, if you’re thinking that online learning is just watching your computer screen for hours, the good news is, it’s not. Most online learning programs now take advantage of new technology to engage students. Some even predict that soon virtual reality technology will be used in online learning course to simulate the face-to-face classroom experience.

How Effective is the Learning Pyramid in Online Learning?

A typical classroom set-up is still viewed as the primary method of learning. Online learning is still viewed as somewhat secondary. This means it still gets apprehension from potential enrollees. Making them miss out on the benefits of self-paced, quality education as confirmed by the US Department of Education.

In their 12-year long-term study, they found that students  who are engaged in online learning, perform much better than those learning through face-to-face instruction. Results can be further improved if elements of online learning are combined with traditional classroom learning techniques.

For example, instructors can refer to the Learning Pyramid as a guide when creating a syllabus for their course. What instructors do is they add activities such as quizzes, engage the class in discussion forums, and make presentations.

They can then make lessons more engaging by utilizing the multitude of tools and platforms offered by the Internet. This helps in maximizing every student’s learning potential, encouraging active learning by using YouTube for audio-visual presentations, or creating how-to blogs to teach others.

Educators should look at a platform like TruAcademy which includes a robust learning management system. The learning management system allows the following:

  • upload customized quizzes at the end of every lesson
  • create discussion groups to foster collaboration, and
  • consult with instructors using Skype.

Using a capable online education platform not only results in a more engaging and enjoyable class for students, but better returns for your online education business. That can seamlessly put learning theories into action via modern technology,

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