It is essential that teachers meet the individual needs of learners by using a variety of learning approaches. While teaching there are some learning approaches I use more than others, for example, I find a practical project suits many of my classes due to the hands-on nature of the subject. A practical project will generally be more interesting for students, especially if the project suits the individual or if they are able to choose the nature of their project. A project of a large scale will also support autonomous learning with students working independently, which may suit someone with autism. Due to the flexibility of a large project it will allow the student to use a variety of learning preferences as they approach the project from different perspectives. There are negatives to a practical project, such as the large amount of time it will take students to complete, meaning that progress needs checking regularly to ensure they are progressing. If a project involves teams it is likely that conflicts will occur, requiring management to ensure learning is maintained.
A group discussion can be an excellent learning approach within my area as it allows students to share knowledge in a relaxed environment. Often particular students will be very knowledgeable of specific areas within computing, sharing this knowledge is beneficial for both them and others. A discussion can be excellent as it allows students to express themselves if they struggle with writing, possibly due to dyslexia. It is important that the discussion is effectively managed to ensure students do not digress into areas in which they are not learning the material effectively. A major negative of discussions is that shy members will try to remain silent or contribute as little as possible.
Another learning approach I use on a regular basis is a lecture with a PowerPoint presentation, “it is a versatile resource which can combine text, graphics and multi-media content.”(Gould & Roffey-Barentsen, 2014, p. 72) This approach allows theoretical elements to be covered, with the added benefit of diagrams and imagery to illustrate concepts.
Another major benefit of the PowerPoint is the ability to include lecture notes; this allows the inclusion of a written transcript of the lecturer’s planned speech for the benefit of any students with hearing difficulties. Although there are many benefits to using a PowerPoint while lecturing, which is likely why PowerPoint has “become enormously popular as a teaching aid” (Gould & Roffey-Barentsen, 2014, p. 72) there are negatives. PowerPoint is inherently linear in its delivery, although this can be overcome if the lecturer is comfortable with dynamically navigating throughout the presentation. Other negatives relate to how the PowerPoint presentation has been created, for example, a slide with too much content is difficult to consume, a PowerPoint that has too many slides or is overly long is commonly known as “death by PowerPoint”. It is important to consider these aspects while producing a PowerPoint presentation, for example, I also try to ensure that the time I spend using the PowerPoint and lecturing is brief and followed by a practical task, allowing students to implement the theory. This should appeal to a variety of learning preferences.
Gould, J. & Roffey-Barentsen, J., 2014. Achieving your diploma in education and training. 1st ed. London: Sage Publications Ltd.