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Promoting Critical Thinking In An Online Learning Environment

As online learning expands to every corner of the globe, both students and teachers worldwide have one question in mind: How will it impact student learning outcomes?


While the change may be abrupt, teachers can still utilize proven education methods to make their learning environments as productive as possible. When executed well, there should be little difference between in-person and online learning besides a screen!


Maintaining Dialogue


For years, teachers worldwide have followed Socrates’ education technique that prioritizes dialogue and discourse [1]. Essentially, the more students are encouraged to answer questions, discuss their reasoning and debate with classmates, the further they will be prompted to utilize critical thinking in the classroom — even if it’s online.


As such, effective question-asking remains a vital component of a teacher’s skill set. The deeper their questions are, the more immersive their classroom experience will be, enabling students to participate in their learning experience actively.


Following Bloom’s Taxonomy [2], a framework for education learning objectives, teachers will ask questions that measure students’ proficiency in the following areas:


  • Information retention (Knowledge)

  • Concept understanding (Comprehension)

  • Concept application (Application)

  • Concept investigation (Analysis)

  • Original concept creation (Synthesis)

  • Subjective concept perception (Evaluation)



Placing Focus on Advanced Thinking Skills


Traditional education methods are notorious for including teaching material that focuses solely on basic thinking skills. Also known as convergent questions, which only have one concrete answer, this method cannot promote critical thinking if used alone.


Therefore, teachers must strive to include complex, divergent questions within assignments and lectures. Rather than prompt students to provide one answer, these questions will enable them to utilize their developed thinking skills by asking them ‘why’ or ‘how’ something is true, subsequently encouraging creative and critical thinking [1].



Working in An Online Learning Environment


Of course, virtual learning places some barriers between student and teacher interactions [3]. Some classes may only have an hour or two of lectures a day, while others may have none at all — but this doesn’t make the methods listed above unachievable.


Fortunately, recent innovations have made it possible for online learning to continue promoting critical thinking, albeit through a screen. Whether teachers do so through online discussion boards, brief virtual lectures or online assignments, students can still reap the rewards without having to sit in a physical classroom.


References:

[1]Smarter eLearning: Promoting Higher-Leveling Thinking In Online Courses

https://www.teachthought.com/technology/wiziq-posts/


[2]How to Use Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

https://www.theedadvocate.org/how-to-use-blooms-digital-taxonomy/


[3]Top 8 eLearning Barriers That Inhibit Online Learners Engagement With eLearning Content

https://elearningindustry.com/top-elearning-barriers-that-inhibit-online-learners-engagement-elearning-content



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