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Creating an Immersive Experience and Active Participation of Students in E-Learning During COVID-19

Engaging Students With Online Instruction

My “Ethics Sage” blog this past Tuesday addressed some of the questions for instructors in preparing to create e-Learning experiences using Zoom. Here are those questions.  

  1. What techniques are available for E-Learning?
  2. What are the limitations of E-Learning?
  3. How can we develop and nurture an online student-teacher learning environment?
  4. How can we help students to stay engaged?
  5. How can we develop tests and deal with possible online cheating?

In today’s blog I will look at how to create an immersive experience and active participation of students in an online learning environment.

Immersive learning can be broadly defined as learning that utilizes augmented, simulated, or purely artificial environments for learners to experience scenarios and simulations. The environment enables the learners to completely get immersed in the learning and in a way that feels like experiencing an actual learning environment. This type of learning is becoming common with regards to online courses and learning.

Immersive learning can grab learner’s attention and activate learning action better than other learning methodologies, which is of critical importance during our COVID-19 e-Learning environment. To be sure, immersive learning does not replace in-person class learning but can enrich student experiences.

Advantages of Immersive Learning

There are quite a few advantages of immersive learning. Writing for Ed Tech, Micah Castelo lists many these advantages.

  • Immersive learning enables students to practice their skills of the real world but in a safe environment. The activities can be supported by rich feedback from the instructor and/or outside experts.
  • This learning strategy helps in achieving mastery of a behavior, technique, or methodology as it involves guided rehearsals as many times as required.
  • Immersive learning establishes an emotional connection with students with the learning experience or event.
  • The learning experience is about being embedded in the actual context. This is done by providing an actual environment’s simulation in which the students are encouraged to work.
  • In this learning experience, students can receive individualized instruction as they progress according to their own pace and through simulation. This can be created in simulation as well as in the virtual world environment.
  • Immersive learning establishes a great platform and ability to let the geographically dispersed learners meet together to role-play and in a virtually established environment.
  • The immersive learning environment enables class discussion and the exchange of knowledge and information.

Engaging Students in the Immersive Learning Environment Immersive learning

It is important that student participation occur to provide a full and immersive learning experience. One way of doing so is to encourage the student and invite them to play their own role within their story. You can ask your learner about how they would handle or manage a situation if confronted by the facts. The purpose is to engage students and let them make a choice so that you may show them the results or consequences. Students learn by evaluating the choices of others to gain a different perspective on the story and share insight. Also, the teacher can present a summary at the end to explain why students made the “right” choice or not.

Students can be engaged when instructors use iclickers. They are versatile, easy to use electronic multiple choice devices that help to provide instant feedback on what students are learning. It is a response system that increases motivation and helps students maximize their capabilities.

Another tool is the use of the comments (it is the equivalent to texting). Instructors can encourage students to ask questions any way they feel comfortable (video and audio on, audio only, or text). In introductory courses, students seem to prefer typed comments and we can get lots of interaction that way.

Learning By Doing

Learning by doing is the mantra of education at the California Polytechnic State University, in San Luis Obispo, CA, where I taught for ten years. It is engaging way to immerse students in the learning experience and can mimic real-world events. Student participation is a given through case analyses in groups, role-play exercises, and presentations that can be evaluated by experts in the field, often by members of an advisory board.

Learning by doing is essential in so-called STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The best way to learn is through repetitive exercises. I use the McGraw-Hill Connect digital teaching and learning system built and developed for both educators and students in higher education institutions. It is a robust and flexible toolkit, saving teachers and students time and helping them improve learning outcomes. It connects coursework and instructors, ultimately setting students up for future success. Through Connect, an instructor can manage and submit assignments online and access engaging course-specific resources. Online questions can be answered immediately and then increase the difficulty level of the next question. It can help students learn the basics so that the instructor can focus on the bigger picture of learning: how to apply it in real-world situations.

In the end, immersive learning requires motivating students to try their hardest and do their best. This can be done by bringing lessons to life and how they can be dealt with in the workplace. It’s also important to pay attention to bring students together because, just like in a classroom experience, they can learn from each other.

In the spirit of the New Year, during the month of January I am giving away free signed copies of my book, Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior, to the first ten people who contact me at: [email protected] and provide a mailing address. May your 2021 be better than 2020. Let's face it, it can't be worse!

Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on January 28, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.