Based on an article from the ‘TeachingThought’ website, found here, the following are characteristics of a highly effective learning environment:
1. The students ask the questions—good questions
2. Questions are valued over answers
3. Ideas come from a divergent sources
4. A variety of learning models are used
5. Classroom learning “empties” into a connected community
6. Learning is personalized by a variety of criteria
7. Assessment is persistent, authentic, transparent, and never punitive
8. Criteria for success is balanced and transparent.
9. Learning habits are constantly modeled
10. There are constant opportunities for practice
The characteristic that I like most, especially for adult learners, is creating an open environment where participants feel free to ask any questions, even the seemingly simple ones. When questions are coming from the students, it is clear that they are listening, and it gives me a chance to expand on the content that was clearly not that clear at first. I also like using a variety of teaching models, relying most heavily on active participation.
Most of these are characteristics are transferable to an online learning environment, but I have found it is much more difficult to ‘set the mood’ online, and students are less likely to ask questions. Since students are not always keen to speak up and ask questions directly, I also try to encourage them to use the ‘comments’ section of the online lecture to ask questions. I hope to continue to find ways to get the students to speak more freely during lectures, and that technology does not get in the way of it!