Benefits of Learning Online

Can Online Learning Benefit Traditional Instructors and Learners in the 21st Century?
“In the 21st century, students must be fully engaged. This requires the use of technology tools and resources, involvement with interesting and relevant projects, and learning environments including online environments, that are supportive and safe….in the 21st century, educators must be given and be prepared to use technology tools; they must be collaborators in learning—constantly seeking knowledge and acquiring new skills along with their students.”
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, March 3, 2010

In this article, the American College of Vedic Astrology™ (ACVA) aims to help explore whether traditional classroom instructors and tutors can use modern information technology and 21st century instructional skills to benefit their learners. There are no suggestions to abandon traditional instructional methods. But are there compelling reasons to put greater emphasis on technology and 21st century skills as enablers for improving learner satisfaction, educational effectiveness, and learner achievement? Is there a new 21st century culture of learning of which technology plays a key role? What is the technical philosophy of your teaching organization–is it up to date?

The findings of a recent research project by Walden University in 2012 confirms that there is great value in online learning. These research findings have significant impact on classroom instruction; for instructor preparation and training; and for those who support classroom instructors, including school administrators, policymakers, and educational developers.

Therefore, we at the American College of Vedic Astrology™ (ACVA) are pleased to share these research findings, their implications on education and recommendations for future instructional development and teaching strategies. We at ACVA look forward to an open and engaging discussion about these various findings.

Among the topics of debate of today’s Vedic astrologers are the rightness of incorporating technology and 21st century skills into Vedic astrology instruction. Those who have fully explored the modernization of Vedic practice overwhelmingly agree that technology is now an essential component of the education of modern learners. Mastering technology as well as new and different kinds of multi-media skills, are particularly relevant in meeting the needs of learners in the growing global Vedic astrology community. Many Vedic astrology teachers, in fact, have access to many types of common and emerging education technologies, including LCD projectors, laptop computers and interactive whiteboards; CCTV; DVD or CVR players; digital cameras and digital video cameras; and smart, mobile devices, such as tablet PC’s (e.g. iPads). More advanced instructors make frequent use of web sites (e.g. webinars) to deliver and to discover information on specific subjects, teaching resources and other educational information such as digitized copies of the works of ancient Vedic astrology scholars, and online access to Sanskrit dictionaries, and chart calculation programs.

People today increasingly want access to internet resources and technology, especially the smart, mobile devices the learners of the X and Y Generation increasingly prefer to use in their daily lives. For them it is not technology should be admitted into Vedic astrology instruction, but rather more a question of when and the more the better.
Some astrologers might remember the criticism traditional astrologers laid out in the mid-80’s to those who began using computer programs to calculate charts. It was said that technology assisted horoscope took away the deeper meaning of chart construction. It distanced the astrologer from the practice. Vedic astrology was not meant to be calculated by machines, but by hand like the ancients. You don’t hear this argument these days since active astrologers find that they can create charts more quickly, more accurately, and they can use advanced techniques that would formerly take many minutes if not hours to calculate by hand. You will even see astrologers from all areas of India, break out their smartphones to calculate a prasna chart right on the spot, producing volumes of data in the palm of their hand, tying in Sanskrit slogans to support their statements.

Critics of the 21st century technology argue that teaching with these technological advances, while based on research and an emerging community of practice, detract from the more important focus on developing knowledge that can only be released by the traditional one-on-one teacher-student interaction.

Living in the 21st century requires the skillful use of technology. This knowledge is multi-purposed in that it serves other aspects of learner development such as critical thinking and problem solving; communication and collaboration (especially in a global context); and creativity and innovation.

In reality, there are disparities between Vedic astrology practitioners and course developers’ perceptions for support for classroom technology use, as well as in their perceptions of the impact of and their emphasis on 21st century skills.

Incorporating technology into Vedic astrology instruction is not just how to operate new advances in software and how to work on the internet but it also involves how to infuse technology assisted learning effectively into the instruction process. What we want is more learner satisfaction, persistence in studies, and greater learning achievements in an efficient period of time. The early adopters and early implements (just as in the case of computerized horoscope calculation) are using technology as an instructional strategy to support learning.

The key message of a survey conducted by Walden University was that teachers’ technology habits make a difference in their perceptions of the value of technology for student outcomes. Education, training, professional development, and the technology support they receive makes a difference in teachers’ use of technology and in their emphasis on 21st century skills. However, the lower the use of technology by teachers, the less the teachers supported the use of technology in learning.

“Teachers who are frequent technology users report greater benefits to student learning, engagement, and skills from the use of that technology than teachers who spend less time using technology to support learning.” Walden University study

A 2012 Boston Survey Research Group study of 4,564 university faculty members indicated that they felt that online education quality stands to rise as the technology improves and as more professors get firsthand experience with the medium. Nearly half of the 4,564 faculty members surveyed, three-quarter of whom are full-time professors, said the rise of online education excites them more than it tightens them. The study goes on to say that “those who were teaching online at the time of the survey, meanwhile, seemed to hold online education in higher esteem than their classroom-bound colleagues. And the greater the proportion of their teaching that occurs online, the more optimistic they are.” Nearly 70 percent of faculty members who taught only in the classroom said they feared the online boom.

Educator Insights
Survey question: What do you wish you could learn regarding the use of technology in your classroom?
“How to more effectively incorporate blogs into my discipline with student participation.”
“I wish I had more time to develop specific lessons and to work with my students on special projects.”
“How to better utilize multimedia tools like video editing software, podcasting, online video, and how to incorporate them into the classroom.”
“How to more efficiently develop projects that start in the classroom and then branch out to the technology.”

21st Century Skills for Vedic Astrologers
Frequent technology users see more impact on behaviors associated with 21st century skills than do infrequent technology users. There is a disconnect between teachers who are frequent users of technology versus infrequent users of technology and their views of support for new technology use among teachers and learners. Frequent users spend 31 percent or more of their class time using technology to support learning. Infrequent users spend 10 percent or less of their class time using technology to support learning.

21st Century Skills

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity and innovation

Behaviors associated with 21st Century skills

  • Mange time to meet goals
  • Listen effectively
  • Draw conclusions from different date points
  • Communicate effectively in oral form
  • Ask relevant probing questions
  • Stay focused on task
  • Create original ideas
  • Take initiative
  • Work respectfully with other students
  • Work well in teams to achieve a goal
  • Participate in class
  • Understanding the global issues and implications for their work
  • Finally, the message to teachers is that change is on the way

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