National University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 6340-6346
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Adult learners have a variety of different learning styles and numerous physical and professional constraints on their choices for classroom or online courses, and neither online nor classroom learning is ideal for all learners. While attributes of both classroom and online learners overlap, there are characteristics of each that are attributable to each category of learner. This article focuses on the online learner and argues that online teaching methods must address the different learning styles of the online learner, and not merely attempt to replicate the classroom online.

The article begins by comparing and contrasting classroom and online learners and identifies the learning styles, and constraints of each category of learner. Cognitive and adult learning theory as it applies to online teaching methods and current adult online teaching methodologies is reviewed. The literature review also includes and analysis of online teaching methods used by leading universities in the United States.

Based on the analysis of the literature, the author argues that the classroom teaching model, where students do homework in preparation for a class with the physical presence of the instructor is inappropriate for online classes. Review of online teaching methods suggests that many online teaching methods attempt to replicate classroom teaching methods that do meet the specific needs of the online learner and do not take advantage of the resources and technology available online.

The article reviews several synchronous and asynchronous technologies and concludes that synchronous technologies tend to be instructor-focused and replicate the classroom environment. These technologies can be appropriate for courses with very didactic content like accounting, computer science, or finance and in situations where the class members in the same time zone. Asynchronous technologies are more appropriate for courses that require participant discussion, integration of knowledge, and where participants are widely distributed geographically.

The online environment has an almost infinite amount of information where learners can explore their own interests. The online instructors’ role is to act as a guide and establish a learning process that allows learners to explore ways that the knowledge presented to them can be integrated into their own cognitive structure. The online teaching model is more inductive and experiential and places more responsibility on the learner to discover and integrate knowledge.

The article concludes by arguing that in online teaching, less is more. Online courses, like text books, show growing focus on content and activities over time. Online case studies, team projects, and discussions take time to conduct, and cramming too much content and too many activities into the online course takes time away from reflection and integration of knowledge.
Online, adult, learning, synchronous, asynchronous.