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The value of passivity

Passivity is a missing element in many online courses I take. For years, the push to make learning engaging and interactive has produced a “fight for every scrap of knowledge” environment. It puts too much pressure on the learners…and it’s demotivating.

When learning in a workshop or a lecture course, the Instructor provides some of the motivation to learn. Regularly scheduled sessions, lectures, presentations, all allow learners to absorb information…without having to provide all the effort. This may seem like a small distinction…but it is what I miss most about face-to-face learning.

Some days I’m just not motivated to read through multiple screens of text…analyze diagrams…experiment on my own…post my thoughts in a forum. All of these activities require that I’m focused on “getting my own learning”. Sometimes, I like sitting back and listening to someone explain a concept. I like a certain amount of passivity in my learning.

Learning requires both “doing” and “reflecting”. If courses don’t build in some type of passivity, the learning experience might not allow for much reflection. Sometimes, staring at a wall is the best learning moment.

How can Instructors build in passivity? Here’s some suggestions:

  • A synchronous session with a tool like vClass or Centra (sessions can also be archived)
  • A video clip
  • An audio clip
  • Presentation developed with tools like Macromedia’s Breeze
  • A Flash presentation
  • A tutorial developed with a program like RoboDemo
  • Group work activities that distribute motivation

Check out these software tools for additional ideas.

One Comment

  1. Gadgetopia wrote:

    Active and Passive Learning

    The value of passivity: I’m more and more interested in instructional techniques and the psychology of learning these days due to my work on The Joshua Project. Here are some great thoughts on active and passive learning. “Passivity is a…

    Friday, October 10, 2003 at 1:10 pm | Permalink