What is interactive learning, really?
It is a procedure that imparts education in the traditional classroom. In between traditional lectures with students who listen to their instructors and take notes and individual e-learning from the commodity of one’s home, interactive learning combines it all, right there in the spot where education happens – classrooms.
Basically, it involves the students to take an interactive role, which in return promotes their autonomous learning.
With the help of technology and a variety of different online programs, students enjoy an opportunity none of their ancestors did when they studied foreign languages or any other material for that matter.
In the paragraphs that follow, we are about to shed some light on the pros and cons of interactive learning, all whilst debunking the many myths you might believe in when it comes to modern education.
Pros of Interactive Learning
Interactive learning has proven to develop high thinking skills and autonomy, increase student retention and help them learn better. These are just a few of the many benefits it offers, such as:
Promotes Classroom Collaboration
Replacing the traditional chalkboards with an interactive whiteboard has reached its peak in the past decade and around the globe. Interactive whiteboards are a popular way to share information in real-time, mostly because they promote classroom collaboration and make learning faster and easier.
‘’As part of this learning process, interactive learning promotes collaboration thanks to the various opportunities offered in terms of partaking in the lessons. With a laptop and an Internet connection, students and teachers connect in real-time, while sitting inside a classroom or studying at home.’’ – explains teacher Joe Terrence.
Social tools can benefit the learning process because they give everyone included an opportunity to connect with the remaining of the classroom participants.
With it, students can build on their communication and work on projects together with their peers.
Versatility in Teaching and Learning
Our attention lifespan can differ, but it is rather short. So, when teachers use the same methods of teaching on a continuous basis, students are bound to get bored regardless of how willing they are to master the material.
In an interactive classroom, this cannot happen. Interactive learning comes with grand versatility in teaching and learning techniques and practices.
There are opportunities for new learning materials and technologies everywhere on the Web, making it possible for teachers to spice up the learning process for their students.
Thanks to interactive learning, students are one step closer to learner’s autonomy. Learner’s autonomy has been the buzzword in worldwide education in the past couple of decades, especially when it comes to foreign language education.
Having the ability ‘to take charge in one’s own learning’ is known to reap many benefits for the students and help them master the target language faster. For this goal, interactive learning is crucial.
With the help of technology used in interactive learning, students can control their learning processes and detect the preferred studying resources.
It helps to beat the feeling of disengagement they often experience in a traditional classroom and helps them find new, individual ways of studying on their own even when the classes are finished.
Uses the Existent Technology Skills of Students
Millennials have grown with technology almost every day of their lives, so it is safe to say that they are very proficient and used to it.
And while many believe that introducing technology into the classroom is risky and gives students more time to get addicted to it, leading them to use technology for educational reasons and purposes isn’t that bad of an idea, after all.
If done properly, interactive learning can give students a whole new perspective of technology. Instead of just using it as a social media tool or game playing tool, they’d be using it to build on their skills and education.
Technology has a grand educational potential for the students, and the use of it in the classroom only feeds that potential.
It Is Flexible and Adaptable
Interactive learning has a grand trait – it is flexible. There are plenty of options that come with it.
To master the foreign language, students can watch YouTube videos, podcasts, vodcasts, read written materials, listen to online courses, etc. Moreover, they can use a myriad of different tools for collaboration, studying, and writing.
Interactive teaching comes with various styles that combine participation and flexibility. Some of the most popular interactive teaching styles teachers use are:
- Interactive brainstorming (individual brainstorming, team ideas mapping, negative thinking and reverse thinking, structured brainstorming, unstructured brainstorming, group passing, etc.).
- Buzz sessions where students contribute ideas and thoughts and share their experiences.
- Pairing students in groups and asking them to share their discussions.
- Q&A sessions with the help of index cards or student-generated questionnaires.
It Is Enjoyable
Finally, one of the biggest reasons why students love interactive learning – it is enjoyable and fun.
When given the chance to collaborate with the peers and the teacher, share ideas and use technology to learn, students are having fun.
Compared to the traditional teaching methods that students often find boring and repetitive, interactive learning allows for a wider range of activities and tools for mastering the same material.
This, in return, enhances their motivation and boosts their engagement.
Interactive learning allows students not only to use a variety of different tools and technology to study but also opens opportunities for them to be creative and enjoy the freedom of guiding their own learning processes.
The effects are grand – thanks to interactive learning, students develop higher autonomy levels, which is known to yield amazing benefits for the learner.
Cons of Interactive Learning
As any other teaching and learning approach, the interactive methods also come with their own set of disadvantages. Here are the most prominent ones in the education of today:
It Can Be Complicated
Since interactive learning is rather new to the world of education, it can often bring complications.
The use of an unlimited number of resources and a variety of tools also adds up to the complications, making it challenging to track what the students are learning and at what pace.
While the benefits are grand, interactive learning also demands a great deal of work on behalf of the teachers.
They need good technical skills to be able to track and guide the students in the process, training that allows them to teach the students of what sources are reliable for language learning, as well as knowledge and experience in using the tools that promote autonomy and classroom collaboration.
Interactive learning must be updated, and often. Teachers and students need to stay informed of the latest trends before they implement them in the learning process. This by itself, brings many challenges.
Costly Demand of Essential Technology Infrastructure
You can’t really promote interactive learning in a classroom without the essential technology.
To implement this into the classroom and enjoy the many benefits it offers, an educational institution needs to have the required equipment and workforce. This demands a large budget, which many schools aren’t willing to spend just to ‘test interactive learning’ as a teaching technique.
One of the disadvantages is definitely the cost. Acquiring hardware and software for a blended interactive learning program is often expensive, especially if the academic institution is large or has multiple branches.
Acceptance and Mentality
Even if the technology and resources are made available to all sides of the learning process, they still have to be accepted by teachers and students.
Otherwise, the cost and efforts will be in vain.
The fact that most students nowadays are millennials and therefore technology-proficient helps this matter by a lot. Students are accepting interactive learning rather fast, but teachers have a long way to go before they obtain the same technical knowledge as their students.
This is a necessity in the process of guiding and aiding students’ learning processes, which is why acceptance and mentality can present a challenge at first.
This is probably the biggest reason why interactive learning is implemented in such a slow pace. The educational system has to go the extra mile to inform, train, and convince all parts of the educational process that blended learning is the best way to go.
Slow Advancement Pace
The pace of advancement of interactive learning methods remains slow.
Based on the chosen learning technique and method, the usage of technology can often make students focus on things with less importance, or put an emphasis on their learning of already mastered materials.
Many students do this. They linger around the topics they find most interesting and easiest to master.
Since interactive learning gives them more flexibility and freedom to impact their learning processes, teachers can’t always oversee the work and progress of every individual student in an interactive classroom.
In the traditional classroom, all students learn from the same materials and at the same pace. Due to the flexibility in interactive learning, this pace can often be slower for some of the students.
At the end of the day, it is the job of the instructor to guide and track the students’ choices for learning and their activities. The process of training teachers to accept and implement autonomy is complex and moving slowly, and with it moves the interactive learning success.
It is definitely moving forward and has progressed a lot since its beginning, but the pace remains rather slow.
Teachers and Students Can Be Overworked and Overwhelmed
We’ve already established that interactive methods require a significant amount of work on behalf of the teacher, especially in the primary stages.
Teachers need to pick out a great syllabus, choose the ratio between online learning and face-to-face learning, find the tools and programs to use for interactive teaching, and guide the students into using relevant sources, in the right way.
That’s just the beginning. Along the path, teachers need to continuously work on their technology skills, check the progress and pace of learning of their students, and constantly find new techniques and sources for making all of this possible.
The more organized this process is, the better will the results be. Still, it is no secret that interactive learning has a negative impact on the instructors – overwork.
When it comes to students, blending learning reaps more benefit than traditional learning.
However, there arises the issue of overwhelming due to the cognitive load. It happens at the beginning stages of the implementation of interactive learning when students are new to the varied educational activities and content.
Until the point where students and teachers reach a balance and master the interactive learning processes, there will be challenges that come with it.
When a teacher finds the right syllabus and creates a program that is tailored to the needs of their students, they need to transfer that knowledge onto the student himself. As soon as the student accepts it, engages in it, and gets used to the workload, such disadvantages should not exist.
This process is as complex as it gets, which is why the implementation of it is as slow as we know it.
Risk of Plagiarism
Most students are already informed of the plagiarism rules or, to be more specific, the rules against plagiarism.
However, when they use the Internet to study in class, they can often get tempted to look up things on the Web and copy them into their work.
This can lead to many problems in terms of students’ assessment and learning.
That being said, teachers have yet another task – to make learners understand the perils of plagiarism and unverified resources on the Web, as well as track their work by using plagiarism detection software.
As you can see, there are both pros and cons for interactive learning as compared with conventional learning.
The advantages are clear and proven, and disadvantages mostly exist during the implementation process of the interactive learning methods.
The sooner blended learning is properly introduced and accepted in a classroom, the lesser will these disadvantages become.