Putting the “Classroom” Back in Online Learning

October 1, 2014

A common complaint about online learning is that it robs students of the benefits of a physical classroom. Gone are the days of group discussions, reviewing homework together, and examining the work a fellow pupil has done at the board. Instead, the student may receive a short explanation of a concept, and then be drilled with a series of problems that are good practice, but do little to model the pedagogical opportunities of a real, live classroom. The Reasoning Mind middle school curriculum takes a rather different approach. Enter: the virtual classroom.

Meet Reasoning Mind's virtual characters in the 6th grade curriculum.
Meet Reasoning Mind’s virtual characters in the middle school curriculum. From left to right: Stephanie, Vanessa, Martin, Lauren, Jaime, Nathan, Isabel, Alex, Angela, and Kayla.

Reasoning Mind has modeled its middle school platform to provide many of the opportunities of a traditional classroom, while still bringing the
advantages of an adaptive blended learning program to our students. Each lesson is modeled as a small tutoring session, in which a virtual tutor leads two virtual students – and one lucky, real student – through the lesson. Throughout the lesson, the real student will do some activities independently – but they will also do a lot of work together, with the virtual characters. The tutor will explain a new concept, but ask questions of the user and virtual students, occasionally asking a question of the class in general, asking the user to “raise their hand” if they know the answer. A virtual student might do work at the board, and the user will often check it. Sometimes, the user may even get to compete against the virtual student in a math-oriented game. The real student and the virtual students go through the homework together, review quizzes and exams together…in short, they learn together.

The end result? Reasoning Mind students feel less like they’re being taught math by a computer, and more like they’re learning with other people.

Post by Lincoln Sedlacek, Educational Media Writer

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0