A Comparison of Two Learning Environments

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Learning Environment Function Purpose Physical Classroom Electronic Classroom
Lecture, class discussion Disseminate information, facts, data

Stimulate thinking and learning

Classroom Private conference
Study groups Enhance learning through collaboration Study groups Private conference
Private and shared notes Create and sharing documents Work book, paper documents Composition software, Electronic notebooks, Personal files
Visual Information Diagrams, drawings, images, spreadsheets, etc. Hand-to-hand sharing of materials, overheads, slides, etc. Binary file attachments, multimedia playback
Notifications, Bulletins Reminders, alerts, memos Due date notices, participation actions, memorandums of procedure or information Bulletin Boards, Public Conferences, Mass email
Personal communications Transitory material, one to one among students or between students and teacher Office hours, hallway conversations Email Messages
Teacher/Student lounge Informal exchanges, socialization Coffee houses, public events Public conference, “Café”
Identifying affinity groups and common ground Identify common interests, experiences, backgrounds to serve as ice breakers and rapport builders Clubs, interest groups, classroom introductions Membership directory, Personal profiles, Resumes, Biography exercises
Q & A Encourage independent thinking and active participation Face-to-face discussion questions Questions / Responses within conferences
Selection for assignment Manage distribution of unique assignments Circulate assignment sheet or make arbitrary assignments “Sign-up” conference or Selection software
Document handling Allow distribution of study materials and selection of portions of a long document to be worked on by several individuals Photocopy machine, printing press, physically handed out Computer document (shared electronically or as paper printout)
Role playing, simulations Enable experimentation, learning games Requires knowledge of rules and process in face-to-face classroom. Possible through dramatization or improvisation exercises. Pen-name signatures. Posted rules or rules-based software.
Anonymity Encourage self disclosure, allows non-threatening review of mistakes Impossible in face-to-face classroom Anonymous signatures
Assignment tracking Determine who has read and done what Presence in the classroom, manual tracking of submitted assignments Membership status. Semi-automated or automated software tracking.
Exam Introduce a time-controlled question set Written, proctored exam Computerized timing, testing and scoring
Grade book Create and provide access to student grade record Instructor tracks manually, student must ask instructor Computerized grade book, read-only access for students
Learning Outcomes Tracking Measure actual learning and performance changes Requires manual capture of verbal or physical behavior demonstrating change from baseline Semantic / linguistic analysis on automatically created and captured transcript


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