Customized Learning Theory

 

Introduction

In the modern world with its pace and globalization, e-learning has turned into a popular alternative form of learning. In this context, e-learning represents an abbreviated form of electronic learning which represents a learning process conducted through an online media.  Unlike in the past where traditional learning called for effort, time and cost, e-learning has simplified all these challenges and created a favorable atmosphere for all potential students due to simplicity, availability and affordability. Therefore by looking at the overview of different sources on pros and cons of e-learning in comparison to traditional learning and drawing examples from students with dyslexia, the objective of this paper will be achieved. Apparently, the customized learning theory will be essential in reinforcing the need for e-learning among groups of students with learning impairments which is scientifically referred to as dyslexia. This is because the impairments limit the ability of the students and more so deny them a chance to read and write. Thus, it becomes mandatory to create a friendly learning atmosphere for the students with dyslexia so as to facilitate their learning experience and process. These special needs calls for the enactment of special strategies, inclusion of IT technologies, and music accompaniment among other simulation methods tailored towards enhancing the learning process of students with dyslexia.

Customized Learning Theory and its Importance

Electronic learning which is more often than not referred to as e-learning represents a simplified learning process where learners can share academic knowledge through an online platform. Such a platform is essential to students with dyslexia because it can act as a substitute to either of a student’s physical impairments. For instance, students with hearing impairments can learn by reading while those with eye losses can learning using audio or braille. Traditionally, learning theory supposes the effectiveness of learning if students correlate their real life experience with knowledge gaining. For example, a teacher may suggest assignments with references to real life and experiences; thus, critical thinking of students appears as a result of self-projected activities (Eble, 2007).

The same issues are relevant to students with dyslexia. Not only motivation for learning, but also an active participation in the learning process is a determinant factor to a successful outcome. With regard to the mentioned background of successful learning, e-learning is a starting point when an individual has an ability to project his knowledge on real life and develop his critical thinking with no disturbances from around. Bilbao (2008), supports that Information Technology abbreviated as IT technologies offer an advanced and favorable learning atmosphere for students. The author further underlines that the target audience of e-learning exceeds the borders of traditional academic level and reaches public interest.  Therefore, students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia can compensate their lack of communicative, reading and writing skills by the mere provision of e-learning platforms.

Vrettaros and Argiri (2008), are focused on reiterating the helpful tools of e-learning. The two authors specify the importance of web-platform for e-learning, which makes e-libraries and journal articles free and available for any target audience. Consequently, e-learning has proved potent with providing students with dyslexia a perfect opportunity to read any learning material from the comfort of their homes. Therefore comparing e-learning to traditional learning processes, the latter is only advantageous when explanations are needed. This is because they provide an opportunity for the learners to interact with the teacher. Furthermore, in spite of the fact that traditional learning is expensive, it accounts for the shortcomings exhibited by e-learning whereby electronic learning as an online platform denies the students a chance for open communication and active participation in the learning process.

Nevertheless, there are studies which suggest alternative approaches in assessment of e-learning versus traditional learning. More often, researchers claim that it is necessary to combine e-learning and face-to-face learning. They highlight the importance of modern technological devices implementation in the process of learning, as well as the necessity of communication between teachers and students. This strategy is an optimal way-out for students with dyslexia: at home they can get acquainted with the required materials from e-libraries (audio books, schemes, graphs etc.) and during classes to participate in the discussion.

Jasinsky also puts an emphasis on the necessity of e-learning socializing by stating that “…there is a shift away from the “e” [in e-learning] and back to “learning”, a shift ‘from exploring technology tools to … a better understanding of e-learner pedagogies, client perspectives and demonstration of good examples of working models in local contexts” (Jasinsky, 2006). This researcher exemplifies a little shift from e-learning to traditional education, because the latter supposes instantaneous clarity and explanations related to the new material. His idea is of high relevance for students with dyslexia, because every student with this illness needs more time and puts more efforts to understand teacher’s explanations. To unite students with dyslexia and without it, it is important that the former group of students felt motivation while studying together with the latter one (Carnahan, 2009). The importance of motivation for the students with dyslexia is also discussed by Hallahan & Kauffman (2000), Klem & Connell (2004), and others. They underline that motivation is a crucial element in a successful achievement of the students with learning disabilities. In this paradigm a lot of works exist. These researchers approve active learning of students and criticize e-learning.

Provision of an effective teaching and learning environment

Modern teachers consider various concepts and behavioral templates, because they focus on teaching practices development on the global background.  Moreover, it is relevant to assist the students with disabilities; students from socially unfavorable families or environment should be treated with a great attention and care. Ukpokodu (2007), reiterates that “educators … should reject forms of schooling that marginalize students who are poor, black and least advantaged”. Consequently, education practices should be developed with respect to gender, race and other personal issues (Ukpokodu, 2007). Thus, e-learning as a strategic learning process concerns students who grew up in families living under unfavorable conditions among them being poverty or poor parenting. Teachers in the modern world should be tolerant individuals with the inert abilities to accept, treat and teach different students. Teachers also have to equate content delivery to their great mastery of content through the e-learning platforms so as to ensure that the students gain adequately. This is because the customized learning theory supports that when the teachers understand their students and tolerate their abilities, the students are bound to gain more, improve and advance their knowledge which is the main objective of learning. As a result teachers are advised to improve their teaching strategies and discard any perverted social stereotypes that might jeopardize the efficiency of the learning process (Ukpokodu, 2007).

The second step is mastering teaching skills during classes. The best way towards attaining this step is by practicing a people-centered approach. The modern social role of a teacher that of being an inspirer and a mentor. The customized learning theory seconds that a teacher is a mentor who helps his students to bridge an inner emotional gap in the class. This explanation necessitates that a teacher should be able to instill the principles of respect and friendship in the hearts and minds of the students. Moreover, to be an effective teacher is to ask students what the truth is, and not just tell them what it is. There is a need to improve personal qualities of a teacher, and work hard at knowledge gaining. Instead of suppressing the inner emotional voice of students, it is better to advance their knowledge and their ideas.

An effective learning environment can be developed in case students take an active part in learning. For this purpose, a teacher can use interactive tools, improve ‘teacher-student’ communication, and support creation of new ideas by the students. Students with dyslexia require special attention and need more help, than ordinary students do.  Social disapproval of people with dyslexia destroys their learning abilities. Many researchers make an emphasis on innovative technologies and internet activities which enable students to work effectively. E-learning is a step of improvement in the learning environment. Application of innovative technological methods or multimedia technologies enables students to create presentations or animations. Thus, in spite of traditional learning, the content is delivered in an interesting form both for the teacher and the students. Students can compensate their inabilities to read and to write by creation of slides with pictures or music accompaniment. Another way of effective learning environment creation is implementation of ‘books-and-music’ approach. In this case, listening skills and cognitive abilities of students with dyslexia are motivated. For the students with dyslexia teachers are their guides, helpers, and friends. Motivation of students is the most important factor of a successful learning. A student is a master for himself.  He doesn’t spend or ‘wastes’ time in the classroom; he dedicates his time to learn the things he needs. Effective learning environment involves group cooperation, because learning process should be fruitful.

Learning Characteristics

To influence four basic modalities: visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (moving), and tactile (touching), it is relevant to implement both e-learning and traditional learning. The more modalities are activated, the more effective learning occurs.  For example, teachers can use printed materials and their own charisma to involve students in the process of learning. It is possible to work out a set of phrases, words, individually compiled assignments to foster traditional learning. Nowadays, it is appropriate to develop a culture of e-learning. E-learning is available currently and it is convenient both for ordinary students or students with learning disabilities to work effectively with their teachers.

Children with physical or cognitive impairments are often criticized by classmates and in this case a teacher should be a “trigger” of tolerant and correct behavior in relation to a child. There is a marginalized disposition of students with disabilities, and modern researches and studies are focused on reconceptualization of the students’ “inclusion” in the educational process. In case students with or without learning impairments can work together in the classroom, a teacher becomes an effective vehicle leading them to the heights of educational success.

Personal Reflection

Students with learning impairments form a group of individuals, who need a special attitude and various helpful tools of knowledge gaining. Every student should be treated as an individual and every student should be taught various worldviews, tolerance to classmates, and patience. Therefore, we can refer to the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu, who claims that the process of instigating change is not easy. He adds that schooling classifies students and knowledge into different categories which makes the whole process of schooling, knowledge and social mandates contradictory. Pierre adds that “Yet it is possible to work on “changing educational probabilities” when teachers understand and incorporate children’s funds of knowledge and resources, so that children can use what they already have, so that each child gets to bring their school bag from the corridor to the classroom and make use of what is there for school learning” (Marshall, 2001). From Pierre’s observation supports a common line of thought that, a teacher is positioned as a trigger of just and fair relations in class and a creator of a friendly atmosphere for learning.

Conclusion

In conclusion therefore, it is mandatory to instigate change in the education sector. The modernistic times calls for a reshuffle of the archaic educational practices and consequently calls for a shift accented from facts-centered educational approach to a person-centered approach. The customized learning theory supports that modern teachers should be more concentrated on global issues and take into account individual’s features of their students to integrate them in the real diverse world. For example, a student should be aware of worldviews of his classmates to take into account their individualities and gain knowledge in a favorable and a friendly atmosphere. It is also necessary to notice that researchers pay attention to emotional aspect in the learning process. Disappointment, frustration, shame, sadness, depression, fierce and embarrassment are often experienced by students with dyslexia. In order to reach success in the learning process, both teachers and students must work on their individualities.

Difficulties in the learning process prevent people from normal life due to the following reasons: inability to memorize and understand the required material or difficulties of words cognition. Moreover, the most intimidating factor of underdeveloped learning process is its destructing impact on a human psyche, emotional stress and social malfunction of a person. These challenging issues are even more serious for the students with dyslexia. They are oppressed by their learning impairments, and need help. Ineffective or unfriendly learning environment can be hazardous not only for their education, but for their lives. A friendly teacher and effective combination of traditional and e-learning will result in successful education of students with dyslexia.

 

References

Bilbao, J. (2008). Improving academic results of students by means of computer applications. 7th WSEAS International Conference on Applied Computer & Applied Computational Science (ACACOS ’08), Hangzhou, China. Retrieved from http://www.wseas.us/e-library/conferences/2008/hangzhou/acacos/124-586-648.pdf

Carnahan, C. (2009). Promoting Active Engagement in Small Group Learning Experiences for Students with Autism and Significant Learning Needs. Education & Treatment of Children, 32 (1)

Eble, K. (2007). Craft of teaching: A guide to mastering the professor’s art (5th Ed.). New York: Jossey-Bass.

Hallahan, D. P. & Kauffman, J. M. (2000). Exceptional learners: Introduction to special education. (8th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Jasinsky, M. (2006). Innovate and Integrate: Embedding innovative practices. Retrieved from http://www.icvet.tafensw.edu.au/ezine/year_2008/may/article_innovation2.htm

Klem, A. & Connell, J. (2004). Relationships matter: Linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement. Journal of School Health, 74, 262-273.

Marshall, B. (2001). Including the Socially Excluded: League Tables and Labor’s Schools Policy. Education, 43 (1), 30. Retrieved from: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000978896

Ukpokodu, O. N. (2007). Preparing Socially Conscious Teachers: a Social Justice-oriented Teacher Education. Multicultural Education15, 8+. Retrieved from: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5035229518

Vrettaros, J. (2008). WEB2.0 tools in education. 12th WSEAS International Conference on Communication. Helsinki: Heraklion Press.

ACED ESSAYS