Over the past few years, the definition of formal education has shifted dramatically. Being physically present in a classroom is no longer the only way to learn — at least, not with the advent of the internet, modern technology, and inclination we are witnessing towards game based learning. Nowadays, as long as you have access to a computer or any other smart device, you can get a quality education whenever and wherever you want. We are now in the midst of a new era in education – online learning, also known as e-learning. The invasion of pandemic, Covid-19, has accelerated this paradigm shift in education and learning, making it an inevitable part of our lives.
With pandemic creeping into our lives, the educational institutions have evolved and adapted the digital way of conducting classes, ensuring children’s safety and learning are not jeopardized. Children took some time to adjust to this new mode of education, but since they had fewer choices, they figured out how to navigate various virtual learning forms. With the threat of pandemic still looming over our heads, online learning is unquestionably on the rise.
Teachers in the traditional education model take various measures to assess students’ levels of achievement, motivation, and engagement. However, on virtual platforms, with no face-to-face interactions, it is challenging to determine children’s engagement and learning levels. The emphasis in e-learning is yet to clear off the nebulas in terms of its effectiveness, but with technology it is facilitating the process of imparting education. A critical stance to consider is if this technology adds value to existing teaching and learning methods and objectively examines what can be potentially gained by the use or dependence on e-learning methods?
Thus, how do we ensure that e-learning enables our children to learn ‘how to learn’ and ‘how to think’?
Engagement vs Reflection
In a learning environment, engagement is commonly characterized as a learner’s level of involvement and intrinsic motivation. It’s also known as “the sum of physical and psychological energy devoted to the learning experience by the learner.” While there are challenges related to maintaining engagement in other learning environments, e-learning platforms pose added obstacles such as:
- Lack of personal interaction between facilitator and learner
- Peer-to-peer contact
- Unengaging content
- How the e-learning environment can be isolating and prone to distraction
Thus, ‘engaging the unengaged’ will always be an elusive goal in e-learning. However, even if an educator attempts to make content engaging and interacts with the child one-on-one, this does not guarantee that children will understand or retain the information, let alone apply it in real-life situations. It’s essential to provide learners with opportunities to reflect on and process what they are learning, especially when learning about complex ideas or thought processes. Reflective learning occurs as we analyze how to learn, what we have learned, think deeply about how the learning will benefit us, and apply what we have learned in real life. Learning is a continuous process, and encouraging learners to reflect on their experiences will help them create profound learning experiences.
E-Learning and Reflective Thinking
As games and gamification become more widely used for education and learning in the physical and the virtual world, how well they foster reflection can directly affect the learning outcomes of children. Konshius, through its engaging and interactive game-based learning program, promotes unique action-based cognitive reflection. Konshius games are delivered through 5 stages; engaging in Reflective Thinking stands as a fulcrum of these 5 stages– Engage, Explore, Reflect, Assimilate and Innovate process.
What do we mean by Reflective Thinking?
Learners need to be engaged in a joint guided exercise to reflect upon the thinking process used while playing the game situation. The learner’s current thinking process has to be allowed to come to the surface while playing the game using hit-and-trial or making mistakes.
However, when the child is asked probing questions regarding the entire thinking process, it enables them to verbalize thinking behind the actions taken during the free-play or hit-and-trial stage. Verbalization opens the doors for ‘new ways of thinking’ as suggestions. So, after initiating the learner to verbalize the thinking process/structure to take action(s), further questions can be asked to create reflection. As a Thinking Facilitator or Coach of your child, with Konshius, you can:
- Ask questions to understand and go deeper to identify the thinking process.
- Suggest alternative ways around the process of structured thinking, that were missed or could have been used at the time of thinking, i.e., before taking action.
- Summarize all the new knowledge given at various times during the reflection process to create a complete interlinks ages of new knowledge.
What will Reflective Thinking help achieve?
Appealing to different learning styles, Konshius is based on proven pedagogy for reflection. Children can easily apply knowledge from the game-play environment in real-life situations. Thus, children become active participants in their learning process. Every session at Konshius keeps them on their toes, at every step, to think about their thinking and learn how to learn. And, this reflection method helps develop the foundation of lifelong mindful thinking by:
- Identifying thinking process
- Assessing strengths and weaknesses of thinking process applied in various situations
- Selecting the thinking process most likely to help achieve the outcome
- Assessing results/relevance/appropriateness of selected thinking process, paving the way to create new processes
Reflective thinking can aid in the exploration of virtual experiences, can get your learners’ gray cells ticking, thus leading to new insights and appreciations. Reflection is not only helpful but also crucial for learning. A learner becomes conscious of otherwise implicit knowledge or actions through reflective practice.
Helping children reflect results in several benefits, including self-development, problem solving, decision-making, uncertainty resolution; empowerment or emancipation; and other unforeseen outcomes. Learners who are made proficient at reflection have a greater chance of becoming successful lifelong learners and adapting to new circumstances. Engagement and reflection are the keys that together open the box of learning, and have equally important roles to play. However, engagement without reflection is only half the job done. As educators we need to understand the importance of this symbiotic relationship and plan the learning modules which not only engage but also become the nurturing ground for building reflective thinking.