Interactive Learning

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Interactive Learning is a pedagogical approach that incorporates social networking and urban computing into course design and delivery. Interactive Learning has evolved out of the hyper-growth in the use of digital technology and virtual communication, particularly by students. Beginning around 2000, students entering institutes of higher education have expected that interactive learning will be an integral part of their education. The use of interactive technology in learning for these students is as natural as using a pencil and paper was to past generations.

The Net Generation or Generation Y is the first generation to grow up in constant contact with digital media.[1] Also known as digital natives, their techno-social, community bonds to their naturalized use of technology in every aspect of learning, to their ability to learn in new ways outside the classroom, this generation of students is pushing the boundaries of education. The use of digital media in education has led to an increase in the use of and reliance on interactive learning, which in turn has led to a revolution in the fundamental process of education.

Increasingly, students and teachers rely on each other to access sources of knowledge and share their information, expanding the general scope of the educational process to include not just instruction, but the expansion of knowledge. The role change from keeper of knowledge to facilitator of learning presents a challenge and an opportunity for educators to dramatically change the way their students learn. The boundaries between teacher and student have less meaning with interactive learning.

Paradigm Shifts in Education[edit]

Interactivity as a pedagogical technique requires a fundamental change in the way education is delivered. Tapscott [2] has identified 7 ways this change occurs:

  • From linear to hypermedia learning.
  • From the teacher as transmitter to the teacher as facilitator.

Components of Interactive Learning[edit]

Social Media[edit]

The socialization of education is evolving in the form of personalized digital media sources. Web logs, or blogs, enable students to express thoughts and ideas individually, while at the same time sharing them with the larger community. The pervasiveness of social networks like MySpace and Facebook connect millions of learners to a virtual community where information is exchanged laterally between and among students and teachers alike. This explosion of community is contributing to an expanding learning economy, where participants have unparalleled access to knowledge, both from teachers and other students.

Urban Computing[edit]

This set of technologies includes the use of wireless networks, smart phones and PDAs, search engines, and location-based media. Urban computing allows enhanced interactivity between people and their environment through the use of these technologies. For Interactive Learning, this means that students are able to assimilate knowledge specific to their location.

Serious Games[edit]

The concept of serious games involves immersing students in virtual worlds by means of role-playing and community interactive games. For learning, this means that the cooperative, critical-thinking, and problem-solving practices encouraged in digital games make serious games a key form of pedagogy. Adapting gaming to a form of experiential learning brings real-world issues into education within the structure of a planned curriculum. Along with their intrinsically engaging properties, games have been touted for their ability to teach ill-defined problem-solving skills, elicit creativity, and develop leadership, collaboration, and other valuable interpersonal skills.[3]

Applying Interactive Learning[edit]

In order to be effective, learning institutions must see computers and associated technology as an essential part of the student. In other words, technology must be seen as cognitive prosthetics.[4] The core concept of distance education is that the real world becomes the learning environment; in this environment, the purpose of the instructor is to help facilitate the absorption of knowledge through both real-world and virtual learning experiences.[5] Historically, one of the obstacles to distance education is the lack of face to face contact. The use of technology as an integral part of course design has attempted to compensate in both synchronous and asynchronous settings.

For delivery of synchronous content, technologies such as videoconferencing and web conferencing are typically used. An example of this is the growing use of Skype and GoToMeeting for virtual class discussions and lectures. For asynchronous content delivery, course designers use a variety of software suites that include various types of interactive elements. Programs such as WebCT, Knowledge Forum, FirstClass and Blackboard Learning System attempt to ameliorate the lack of contact with online discussion forums and bulletin boards.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tapscott, D (1998). Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  2. ^ Tapscott, D (1998). Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  3. ^ Gee, J (2003). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  4. ^ Johnson, S (2001). Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. Toronto: Scribner.
  5. ^ Nilles, J. "Some Historical Thoughts on the ee-Learning Renaissance". Innovate. Innovate Online. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-09-19.