Pushing and Pulling: How it relates to online learning

Most of us come from a traditional learning background where information is presented in a linear fashion – Professor presents a lecture and perhaps some notes, students absorb the information, students are assessed on the information. In an online course, students are often locked into a “click and read content” format of learning. In this instructional format, students are not always challenged to reflect and make decisions about the information they are learning.

In the article “How to Create Interactive E-Learning”, the author of the  Rapid E-learning blog , who simply calls himself Tom provides four structural changes that allow learners to pull information.  This “pulling” action helps create a more active learning experience.

  • Set the stage by providing some contextual information.
  • Create decision points where the learner is challenged to demonstrate their understanding. We don’t want them just reading or listening. We want them to reflect and process. Getting them to make decisions is a good way to get them there.
  • Provide a means for them to collect information (this is where exploration comes in handy).
  • Give them feedback based on the decisions they make.

Simple changes to the presentation of your content will allow you to make a bigger impact in your online learning environment.

Here is an example where students are studying music of the Baroque Era (1650-1700). They are asked to compare and contrast traditional and contemporary performances of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. To allow the students to reflect and make decisions about these two performances, they are given a drag and drop exercise.


Once their choices are selected, the exercise provides subtle feedback by showing them whether the feature was a more appropriate description of the contemporary performance or the traditional one.


“Normally we push content out, but if we think about how to get the learner to pull the content in it forces us to craft relevant scenarios and decisions. And we have to move our course design away from linear and towards more open exploration and interactivity. And at that point you’ll have a much more engaging and interactive eLearning experience.”

Aim to make your learning environment relevant and engaging and show students how truly wonderful and rewarding learning can be. I encourage you to read the full article, http://blogs.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/how-to-create-interactive-e-learning/ and spend a little time contemplating your learning environment.


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