Active Learning Strategies for Online Learning: Strategies to Add Concept Maps and Digital Flashcards to Increase Social Presence in Online Courses

Active Learning Strategies for Online Learning: Strategies to Add Concept Maps and Digital Flashcards to Increase Social Presence in Online Courses

Josh Gordesky (Game Plan Communications LLC, USA), Andrew Cohen (Brainscape, USA), Oliver Huebler (MindMeister, USA), Olivia Jardine (MindMeister, Austria) and Raphaela Brandner (MindMeister, Austria)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 33
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3229-3.ch009
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Online concept maps and digital, adaptive learning flashcards are introduced as two active learning resources that increase the social presence in online courses. These resources apply the spacing effect, which improves learning when the study sessions are appropriately spread out instead of cramming the information into one long session. Also, retrieval practice, which occurs when the learner is required to visualize the response instead of passively reviewing the answer, is used with these resources as well. Strategies for using online concept maps and digital, adaptive learning flashcards are discussed to provide online instructors with ideas on how they can use these tools to build rapport in the online classroom that leads to meaningful learning experiences.
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The Technology Tools

The two technology tools that will be analyzed in this chapter are a concept map and an adaptive learning flashcard platform.

Concept Map

A concept map is a graphical tool with circles, boxes, lines, arrows, and text that illustrates relationships between concepts, which a learner uses to organize and represent knowledge (Novak & Cañas, 2008).

Adaptive Learning Flashcard Platform

An adaptive learning flashcard platform brings together the old-fashioned learning technique of using an index card that features a term on one side and the definition on the other with the adaptive sequencing power of a computer program that brings cards forward that were not properly recalled; these cards are practiced more frequently until the recognition is correct (McLean, Hogg, & Rush, 2013).


Creating Social Presence With Tools

Adult learners often enroll in online courses to improve job-related knowledge or skills (Park & Choi, 2009). The achievement of learning goals in online courses comes with the use of active learning strategies as opposed to passive learning strategies. When using an active learning strategy such as elaboration, a student rephrases a concept into his or her own words. Another active learning strategy is retrieval practice, which occurs when the student gives a concerted effort to reflect on the response and come up with the correct or appropriate answer.

The fact that students actively engage with the content through elaboration and retrieval practice provides the perfect opportunity for students to work in pairs, in small groups, or as a class. The intended result of this collaborative work is an increase in social presence. Even though the students are separated by distance in an online course, they still should perceive social presence as “the measure of the feeling of community that a learner experiences in an online environment,” as defined by Tu and McIsaac (2002, p. 131) and from the elaboration and retrieval practice.

The purpose of increasing social presence is to improve the learning outcomes. For instance, Tu and McIssac note that the delay in responses among students in an asynchronous environment could bring a diminished social presence due to the minimal interactions (2002). In other words, a student who feels alone in an online course will likely also feel increased anxiety about completing the assignments, which will likely prevent the student from achieving the learning goals, which, in turn, could lead to dissatisfaction with the course. Picciano (2002) supports this finding in noting that online students

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