Knowing your Learners

Stew not saladhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/apelad/8743782892/sizes/m/in/photostream/

What is our students’ specialty? Through my learning journey I have become more aware of the critical task of finding out who our learners are in each of the courses we teach. What is their learning style specialty, how do they prefer to communicate, how do they perceive their own learning, what are their expectations from the course, what is their experience and educational level, how about their technology specialty, do cultural or belief systems influence use of technology, what does assessment mean to the learner. The list can just go on. In the cartoon above the key ingredients are similar but the method of putting these ingredients into a final product will differ.

As instructors we must consider the learning styles of our students: Below is an article from the University of North Carolina that focuses on ways to accommodate individual differences in the design of online learning environments.

http://www.fp.ucalgary.ca/maclachlan/EDER_679.06_Fall_2009/Individual_Differences.pdf

As instructors we need to be aware of cultural or religious implications: Section 6 in the article below makes reference to technology and culture.

http://jime.open.ac.uk/article/2010-6/html

The following blog post looks at different technology bans in different countries.

http://ifitop10.blogspot.ca/2013/11/top-10-technology-bans-in-different.html#.UpU6UuKQMSG

The role of the instructor is to get to know their learners: This should be done at the start of the course through a synchronous connection if possible. The instructor should be prepared for this meeting and know what information about the learner they wish to gain through the synchronous meeting. Nachamma Sockalingam suggest the use of student evaluations .  “Understanding learner needs is essential for providing quality education.

Further information is available in the resource section. Take a look at the assessment resources too.

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About Karin Potgieter

Originally from South Africa, I have been privileged to enjoy the beautiful lifestyle of Canada. My career in Early Childhood Education has been motivating, ranging from the endearing relationships with the children and families of the Preschool that I owned to the inspirational interactions with my students as instructor of the Early Childhood Education Certificate Program. My qualifications include a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, Early Childhood Education Certificate, Provincial Instructors Diploma and en route to completing the Certificate in Online/eLearning Instruction.
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