Many roads lead to learning. Different students bring different talents and styles to college. Brilliant students in a seminar might be all thumbs in a lab or studio; students rich in hands-on experience may not do so well with theory. Students need opportunities to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them. Then they can be pushed to learn in new ways that do not come so easily.
Technological resources can ask for different methods of learning through powerful visuals and well-organized print; through direct, vicarious, and virtual experiences; and through tasks requiring analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, with applications to real-life situations. They can encourage self-reflection and self-evaluation. They can drive collaboration and group problem solving. Technologies can help students learn in ways they find most effective and broaden their repertoires for learning. They can supply structure for students who need it and leave assignments more open-ended for students who don’t. Fast, bright students can move quickly through materials they master easily and go on to more difficult tasks; slower students can take more time and get more feedback and direct help from teachers and fellow students. Aided by technologies, students with similar motives and talents can work in cohort study groups without constraints of time and place.
Respects diverse talents and ways of learning
The Internet has vast potential to enable learners to study in ways that make use of their talents and accomodate their learning style. Audio and video can be used to accomodate visual and auditory learners. Even tactile learners can benefit from interactivity with the computer.
The Seven Principles of Good Practice is only one of many models for examining the benefits that the Internet brings to the practice and pedagogy of learning on the Internet. But it is easy to see that while the potential is there, a great deal of work is required of those of us engaged in the art, science or profession of learning. In addition, there is a whole new theory of learning, connectivism, which may require other ways to approach the design of learning activities. Some thoughts on connectivism are in the Evolution section of this web site.