Managing Teaching and Learning: Learner Interaction in ODeL for Professional Development
ODeL has introduced a total paradigm shift in teaching and learning: interaction in distance education is different from interaction in regular face-to-face education. This is because in distance education roles have been flipped - the teacher facilitates learning and the learner demonstrates more responsibility in learning. Interaction in online forums is a deliberate function. Usually it is the instructional designer with the collaboration of the course or program coordinator that decides on the degree of interaction that the learner will engage in so that it is pedagogically meaningful. Learner interaction in online distance education occurs in the following clusters (i) learner-content interaction, (ii) learner-instructor interaction, (iii) learner-learner interaction and (iv)learner technology interaction. A sound knowledge of the learning styles of the learners that can provide correct guidelines regarding the type of interaction that should be present and where it should exist.
However, in Open Distance Electronic Learning for Professional Development (ODeLPD) situations, where emerging practitioners are being trained, it is important for them to discover the challenges of learner interaction first hand. They should be exposed to all possibilities and should understand the problems in each possibility as well as equipped with how to address these. For effective overall interaction, an understanding of learning styles is really important.