How should a good learning environment be facilitated? - Fleksibel utdanning Norge

A good learning environment can be based on many factors: programme scope, subject content, participants, tutor(s) and supervisor(s), information, support and work methods. The tutor’s and planner’s view of learning also helps shape the learning environment.

A sense of security and well-being are nevertheless fundamental for a good learning environment, and this depends on several factors. Good information about the content and teaching arrangements, clear clarification of expectations and gradual adaptation to the teaching activities are key. Communication with the students begins even before the programme or course starts.

Flexible Education Norway’s quality standards state:

All communication with potential students should aim to provide the best possible basis for the recipient to determine whether the programme or course is in accordance with their needs and prerequisites’ (section 2.4.2 C), and: ‘Plans that describe the objectives of the programme or course, the expected learning outcomes, the structure and learning activities and forms of assessment should be available to the prospective student well before the start of and throughout the course of study. The institution should consider how long they should be available afterwards.’ (section. 2.5.2 A) (17)

To ensure that students perceive the learning environment as good, they must feel confident about what they are doing, that they can master the tasks they are given, and that guidance is available when needed. Prospective students need information about content, type of teaching and learning activities, organisation and forms of assessment. It is crucial for students to know what is expected of them in terms of online and face-to-face attendance. The possibility of receiving guidance and support, the expected workload, work methods, deadlines for compulsory assignments etc. should be clarified at an early stage.

En trappeformet modell som viser hvordan de lærende trenger støtte og veiledning både i tekniske og pedagogiske nivåer
Figure 4 Model for planning support for students in an online learning environment

The model in Figure 4 is read from the bottom up. Salmon emphasises the importance of taking the time to make the participants feel safe at the first two levels, to enable them to move up towards the higher levels. The first levels are about access and building relations through simple but meaningful tasks, such as the students and tutors presenting themselves with an open profile in the learning platform. Part 2, Chapter I provides many specific tips for relationship-building activities. We may well think that everyone is digitally literate today, but the fact that you master some media and apps does not mean you will intuitively understand how to navigate the digital learning arena. The more digital and asynchronous the programme or course is, the more important it is to ‘take the students by the hand’ and lead them. This can be done by showing them on the screen where they can find what they need.

Levels three and four of Salmon’s model are referred to as Information Exchange and Knowledge Construction. This chapter largely focuses on these levels when we write about learning activities. The two different shades demonstrate that, at each stage of development, both educational and technological support will be needed to access the various digital resources and arenas and to make the best use of them.

Fotnoter

  1. 17

    Normer for kvalitet i fleksibel og nettbasert utdanning og opplæring (2021) published by Flexible Education Norway https://fleksibelutdanning.no/ressurs/om-kvalitetsnormer-for-fleksibel-opplaering-og-utdanning/ (retrieved 4 May 2023, translated June 2024)

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